A Time for Change


Feminist Collective members posing with Adaku Utah, on the far right, at the SAFER Teach-in Nov. 15; photo by Morgan Czeropski

In its last meeting before Thanksgiving break, the Feminist Collective discussed plans to buttress SFUAD sexual assault policy, wanting to make campus a safer space for students.

“It’ll be difficult to get done,” President Maria Siino said, “I’ll have to have a lot of meetings with people.”

The first of these meetings is scheduled for Nov. 24, and will be with Senior Director of Student Life Laura Nunnelly. Siino plans to meet with Nunnelly regarding the alignment of university policy with Title IX regulations, which means the addition of a full-time Title IX coordinator, and a Title IX resource center.

“The school has a lot of work to do,” Siino said, adding that she’d like to see it done by spring 2015.

The collective first learned of policy lapses from health-and-safety advocate Adaku Utah. Invited by Siino and the collective, Utah visited the university Nov. 15 and hosted a teach-in at the Forum.

For the seven students who attended, the teach-in provided information on the definition of consent, the ubiquity of “rape culture,” how this culture has shaped ineffective sexual assault policy and how policy can change with student initiative.

Due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, teach-in participants requested that they speak off the record. However, Utah told participants that SFUAD policy is not in line with Title IX or Clery Act regulations, and students can file suit right now for policy lapses.

“Schools start paying attention when you wave Title IX violations in their face,” she said.

But Nunnelly, who was not invited to the teach-in, said the university has no policy lapses of which she’s aware, and that Utah must have consulted outdated procedure. Nunnelly wants to clear up any discrepancies and misinformation with Siino in Monday’s meeting, and said she is willing to work with the collective on improving policy if needed.

“I want to make sure we’re all on the same page,” she said, “If they give me the changes, I’ll send them through.”

Collective member Charlotte Roberto said a full-time Title IX coordinator and resource center is “absolutely necessary” to ensure sexual violence prevention; useful data tracking; administrative accountability; and to provide year-round, 24/7 counseling services, emergency contraception and antibiotics to victims of sexual assault.

Citing two October campus assaults, Roberto said students need policy change now more than ever. If for no other reason than “to show that the school truly cares about its students.”

Barring disapproval from the legal team of school owners Laureate Education, Inc., Nunnelly said there’s no reason why policy changes could not be implemented by spring 2015.

“Policy is one of the most sustainable ways to promote change,” Utah told teach-in participants, adding later that if policy gaps aren’t filled, SFUAD could lose its federal funding.