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January 12, 2016

SG establishes committee on sexual assault prevention

Near the end of last quarter, Student Government’s College Council (CC) approved the creation of the Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Committee in an 8–3 vote. Three members of the council abstained.

Student Government (SG) has set aside $10,000 for projects promoting sexual assault awareness and prevention, all of which will be allocated to the new committee.

According to Cosmo Albrecht, a Class of 2018 representative and committee chair, the committee is meant to bring together people from different advocacy groups with a stake in sexual assault awareness and prevention with SG leadership to craft a funding proposal for the $10,000.

Previously, SG has allocated all of the $10,000 to run an annual Sexual Assault Awareness Week in the spring quarter consisting of various student-organized events, activities, and speakers.

“Some folks expressed concern that having all of the money targeted at one specific event was perhaps not the best use of the funding. This proposal serves to rectify that concern and ensure that the people who are doing advocacy work on this issue are the ones who are directly deciding on where this money is being spent,” Albrecht said.

The committee will evaluate how effective the awareness week was and judge whether or not continuing to fund one advances its mission.

The committee will most likely consist of eight members, including two members of CC, and six members from different advocacy groups. CC has been in touch with student organizations Phoenix Survivors Alliance, the UChicago Clothesline Project, Greek Life Out In Front, and Queers United in Power. One of these advocacy representatives will be a graduate student.

Michael Meng and Calvin Cottrell, Class of 2018 representatives, and Mike Viola, a Class of 2016 representative, all voted against the formation of a committee in the November 17 CC meeting.

Viola and Cottrell cited in their opposition to the proposal the fact that the chair of the committee exclusively appoints committee seats.

Viola said in an e-mail, “I believed that College Council as a whole should have a role in making sure committee members reflect a wide range of involvement in campus life. My vote was on the assumption that an amended version would certainly pass and, regardless, I saw the approval of the committee as a net positive.”

“I decided to vote against the committee as proposed because I felt there were problems with its structure but not its mission. I wanted to make sure that there was as much student participation as possible,” Cottrell said in an e-mail.

“Now that the committee has been created I know the committee is gonna do really impactful work and I'm looking forward to evaluating whatever it proposes.”

Regarding the work of the committee, Albrecht said, “[The committee’s] objectives are to support the advocacy and organizing work that is happening on campus with respect to sexual assault… and provide the student body with information and access to resources to both prevent and report sexual assault. Its objective is to truly raise awareness among multiple constituencies and frame this as an issue that affects multiple groups of people.”

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