Recent assaults provoke campus climate change

By Christina Oddo

Writer

Sexual assault is the current priority of the recently formed campus climate task force, President John Bravman said at a University open forum on Tuesday in the Elaine Langone Center Forum. The forum was sponsored by the President’s Office, the Committee on Complementary Activities and the Women’s Resource Center.

Bravman reacted to the “shocking events” that occurred over the “first few weeks of term.”

“It is a matter of addressing a very real problem,” Bravman said. According to Bravman, asking the task force to take on the subject of sexual assault is, in fact, asking them to take on a very difficult topic.

George Shields, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and co-chair of the task force said the goal of the task force is to “assess data to document the climate.” The task force is in its “beginning stages,” he said.

Tracy Shaynak, director of the Women’s Resource Center, said that the Transition to College course required for first-year students has incorporated a sexual assault unit into its curriculum for the past five years. The course promotes the awareness of resources and encourages ideas regarding consent, dialogue and prevention, according to Shaynak.

The idea of a continuing dialogue is ideal according to Shaynak and the majority of the Forum participants and attendants. Walks and marches held around campus throughout the year are part of the attempt to continue this open dialogue. Shaynak said that the participation and enhancement of a continuing conversation as well as preventative efforts are critical in order “to make Bucknell as safe as possible for everyone.”

Shaynak also said that the campus community must create opportunities for students to communicate with other students, reiterating the idea that a “continuing dialogue” is essential.

Participants in the forum said that University students and faculty members will soon be able to access the Public Safety crime log through myBucknell. In accordance with the Clery Act,  or the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, crimes like murder, non-negligent manslaughter, aggravated assault, robbery, forcible sex offenses, forcible rape, forcible sodomy or sexual assault with an object and burglary must be logged, disclosed and made public by the University.

Participants said that many sexual assaults do not appear in the crime logs located in The Bucknellian in order to protect the rights of the victims. If the assailant is unknown, the entire campus community is notified via e-mail. If the event or situation is not an ongoing risk to the community there is no need for notification.

The task force acknowledged that sexual assault was only one piece of a big puzzle involving the general campus climate.

According to Shaynak, we have come a long way, especially in the University’s relationship with the hospital and with the district attorneys.

Students interested in learning more about the task force and its goals can attend an Empowered Peer Education Interest meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. in Langone Center 217.

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