Implement a mandatory, comprehensive, sexual assault education and training program for all University of Virginia students.

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Implement a mandatory, comprehensive, sexual assault education and training program for all University of Virginia students.

This petition had 517 supporters
Members of the University community started this petition to University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan

In the aftermath of the Rolling Stone article describing the pervasiveness of sexual violence at the University of Virginia, President Teresa Sullivan on December 5, 2014 stated that the University would “continue to take a hard look at our practices, policies, and procedures,” and that U.Va would “lead the way on this critical issue.” As a group of concerned alumni and interested parties, we are asking President Sullivan to take a concrete step towards fulfilling this promise of leadership. As a community, we can no longer take only symbolic actions in combating sexual violence on campuses. One in five undergraduate women experience sexual assault while in college. 85 percent of college sexual assault victims had previously spoken with or seen their assailant. And yet, nationally, only 1 percent of assailants are disciplined by schools. It is time for a sense of urgency in addressing this pervasive and cyclical issue.

We believe a first step in ending the culture of sexual violence at U.Va is the implementation of a mandatory, once-a-semester training program for all students. Currently, U.Va does provide some trainings on sexual assault, but none are comprehensive in nature, none touch the lives of all students during the entirety of their academic careers, and none adequately equip students with the tools needed to navigate the complex legal and cultural realities of winning justice in the wake of an act of sexual violence. It is clear that, from stories shared before the Virginia legislature and with members of the press and with friends and allies, the current trainings and policies in place are not nearly enough to effectively move to end sexual assault at U.Va. In addition, there is a lack of transparency in the administration's policies toward sexual misconduct, which result in confusion, fear, and ultimately, the silencing of survivors.

In light of this reality, we propose the University institute a fluid, ongoing sexual assault education program that touches students at regular intervals throughout their academic careers. The training will provide information on the Sexual Misconduct Board's policies and procedures, consent, healthy relationships, bystander intervention, and how to help a survivor. The program would be guaranteed to last over a period of time, in order to create institutional memory and safeguard against it becoming only a temporary response to a systemic problem. While such a program alone will not shift the sexual assault culture at U.Va, it will ensure that all students have access to in-depth information about U.Va's sexual misconduct policies and the University’s legal obligations under Title IX, equipping students with institutional knowledge that will help them continue to hold the University accountable, and allow them to support their community members in the best way possible.  

To shift the power dynamic and challenge the current cultural climate on campus, we must all be advocates for creating an environment in which students feel safe, informed, and confident that their rights will be protected. Sign our petition today calling for the implementation of a comprehensive sexual assault educational program at the University of Virginia, and insist that President Sullivan take this first step in fulfilling the University’s promise of being a model institution for the nation.

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