Staff Editorial: Administration must include student voices in sexual assault prevention efforts

One in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

In a recent email to the student body, Tania Tetlow, Tulane chief of staff and senior vice president, wrote in regard to sexual assault prevention, “Our work will be successful only with broad input from the entire community.”

The entire community, however, has not been included in the dominant dialogue surrounding the issue. Efforts on campus have too often excluded students and reached limited spaces on campus.

The administration has relied heavily on the work of student programming, which can only go so far outside their respective organizations. The task force created by the university includes a small number of students, most of whom are already involved in Undergraduate Student Government and Sexual Aggression Peer Hotline and Education, two of the predominant organizations already focusing on this issue.  

By only allowing dialogue in these arenas, the discussion is limited and deprives others in the community of the chance to get involved and become informed. To receive broad and representative input, the university must seek out a range of students to involve in the dialogue.

The recent town hall hosted by USG gave students an outlet to have their questions answered, but that is only the first of many steps that must be taken to engage students, all of whom have a stake in finding solutions to a culture of sexual assault.

The lack of outreach to a diverse body of students means campus efforts to address the culture of sexual assault are dominated by a few predominantly white, straight and cisgender groups. Without opening the dialogue up to students of color and LGBTQ+ students, Tulane leaves out voices that are essential in understanding the full scope of the issue.

The Wave of Change website, panel nomination form and suggestion form are not sufficient in that they do not make clear how and the extent to which student voices and experiences will be prioritized in the process of finding solutions.

We call upon the administration to create an application for students-at-large to sit on the task force to break down the barriers between university officials and the students they pledge to protect.  

Involvement is not a one-and-done process, and it is not solved with the skit presented the first weekend of freshman year, which most students likely forgot. Rather, it is the product of hours of expansive efforts that are consistently reinforced and re-examined.  

No matter the effort student organizers put into the work, the university cannot dismantle the culture of sexual assault without involving all those affected by the issue.

Staff Editorials are written weekly by members of the Tulane Hullabaloo Board and approved by the full Board by a 2/3 majority vote. 

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