Senate unanimously approves including sexual assault resources on syllabi


Undergraduate Student Government President Morgan Wittenberg speaks to the University Senate on Monday about putting OneWave language on syllabi. 

Armando Marin, Online News Editor

The University Senate unanimously approved legislation Monday that encourages professors to include information from Tulane’s One Wave sexual assault prevention campaign in their course syllabi starting in the Fall 2015 semester.

One Wave is a comprehensive violence and sexual assault prevention program and part of the national “It’s On Us” White House campaign. The One Wave program uses specific words and phrases to promote the program, referred to as “One Wave language.”

The University Senate legislation originated from an Undergraduate Student Government initiative, passed Dec. 2 in a USG meeting.

The new syllabi language includes resources such as Counseling and Psychological Services available for students who are survivors of an assault, Tulane University Police Department, Sexual Assault and Peer Education Hotline and the Student Health Center.

“As One Wave, Tulane is committed to providing an environment free of all forms of discrimination and sexual harassment, including sexual assault, domestic and dating violence and stalking,” One Wave said. “If you (or someone you know) has experienced or experiences gender-based violence, know that you are not alone.”

Including One Wave language on syllabi will not be required, but rather deans and administrators will encourage their faculty to do so. Sean Saxon, USG vice president for academic affairs, said putting this language on syllabi will allow professors to be a part of the discussion about violence on campus.

“When [professors] go over the syllabi, most go over the honor code and what that means,” Saxon said. “We want them to be invested in [violence prevention] as well and mention Tulane’s policies on Title IX and discrimination.”

Though the legislation passed unanimously, some university senators expressed concern about the current length of course syllabi. One senator said he was unsure of whether the One Wave language was relevant to classwork.

“There is a general concern about how syllabi are growing into these huge documents,” a senator said. “There is concern about putting this half-page of information on the syllabus … Is this relevant to a particular course?”

The senator pointed out that the Honor Code is directly relevant to the syllabus policy but that the syllabus may not be the right place for sexual assault prevention information.

“I think it’s well-intentioned, [though],” the senator said.

USG President Morgan Wittenberg, who presented the legislation to University Senate, said the passage of the legislation by University Senate speaks to the ability of students to make their voices heard by senior administration.

“I am really optimistic, hopeful and appreciative of all the support [this legislation] had,” Wittenberg said. “Moving forward, it set a really great and strong precedent for bringing something to the University Senate, because it needs to be and is taken seriously. I think that is a huge win for all departments and all constituencies within the senate to say ‘Look when our students speak, bring it to our faculty and staff. They listen.’”

USG is also working with Technology Services to add One Wave language to Gibson Online and Blackboard, so students are more likely to see it.

“Students check Blackboard and Gibson a lot more than they check their syllabi,” Saxon said. “It’s that thought of having [the language] in more than one place and people being able to see it and remember it.”