by Catherine Arjet
Assistant Arts & Life Editor
We can no longer deny that sexual assault is a big problem on college campuses. As of the beginning of April, there were 106 open investigations against US college and universities for title XI violations (the law that governs how schools handle sexual cases). Currently, one in four women are assaulted during their time in college. In order to combat these terrifying statistics, the Millsaps administration has released a new sexual assault policy and is actively working with many student groups (both Greek and non-Greek) to make sure students are aware of recent changes.
One of the main ways the administration wants to get the word out is through education. From simple things like handing out copies of the policy at housing selection, to going over it at Greek chapter meetings, to organizing events that ask students to imagine themselves in these situations, they are making sure everyone on campus knows how to prevent, report, and deal with sexual assault. The newly formed Sexual Misconduct Education and Training committee composed of students, faculty and staff recently hosted “Risky Business”, an event featuring skits and student input. In the fall, Lori Genous, Director of Health Promotion (who many know for her Healthy Monday tips) hopes to educate the incoming freshmen on what constitutes sexual assault and how to stop it when you see it. “It’s not just about talking to students about not getting sexually assaulted” Genous says “It’s about addressing the culture behind it.”
But students aren’t the only ones getting educated. “Every (faculty or staff member) has to be trained on how to handle sexual assault on campus” explains Genous. Faculty and staff are mandatory reporters, meaning that if they are made aware of a sexual assault they must make a report. This new education and train teaches them how to do this and how help a student that has been assaulted.
So what is this shiny new policy? “The biggest (change) is in talking about consent” Genous says “That’s something students really need to know: that if you have been drinking, you cannot give consent” The new policy also includes revisions to the process of making a formal complaint and the way the incident is investigated: now the school only needs to be 51% sure that the incident took place to take action against the perpetrator, as well as the retaliations.
The biggest obstacle to reducing sexual assault, Genous tells us, is culture change. “We can only do so much” she says, “We have to hope that when two people are in a room together they’re making the right decisions.” However, she’s optimistic that not only does our campus not have as far to go as others might, but that we will rise to the challenge of reducing sexual assault and promoting a culture that discourages sexual violence.
For students that want more information or resources, Genous is the college’s deputy title IX coordinator and our contact for sexual assault resources on campus and the website knowyourix.org provides many reassures for survivors, student leaders/activists or just people or want to know more about campus sexual assault in America.