Students press administration over release of sexual assault town hall results

sexual assault

Scroll down to read the comprehensive live updates from the event. Read next week’s issue for insights on student reactions, thoughts from administration and what steps are moving forward.

Yesterday evening, the Kendall Cram auditorium overflowed with students waiting to hear the results of the sexual assault climate survey and have their questions answered.

President Mike Fitts, Tania Tetlow​​, senior vice president and chief of staff to the president, and Meredith Smith, assistant provost for Title IX and Clery Compliance sat on the panel for the event.

The night began with the results of the survey showing 41 percent of undergraduate women report having been sexually assaulted. The percentage of undergraduate men who report being sexually assaulted is 18 percent

Sexual violence on Tulane’s campus is widely recognized an issue, with only 1.6 percent of female respondents and 4.8 percent of male respondents saying they do not think sexual assault is a problem at Tulane.

sexual assaultGina LoBiondo | Production Manager

According to the survey, the queer LGBTQ+ community is disproportionately affected by sexual violence on this campus.

“Queer students are at the highest risk in our community, and it’s time to recognize that,” Smith said.

Furthermore, data show that while rates of sexual assault are approximately half that of their white peers, students of color feel more unsafe and less likely to use resources on campus than white students.

“We come together today as a community to talk about subjects ignored in our society for far too long,” Fitts said in his opening address.

Following the release of data, the floor was opened for students to ask their questions. Students immediately pressed the administration with questions wondering why the All-Campus Town Hall was limited to the space of Kendall Cram.

“You’re right, we should have done it in McAlister,” Tetlow said.

Students continued to line up at the microphone, bringing up concerns about the amount of money from the new Only the Audacious campaign that will be dedicated to sexual violence research, accessibility of rape kits on campus, the delay of the results, a fear of the discussion of ending sexual assault losing its momentum and more.

“You’re probably wrong, we’re not going to have a conversation about this next semester,” a Brooke Hanratty, president of Students United for Reproductive Justice, said.

A student also questioned how administrators could continue to celebrate the legacy of white supremacists for whom some campus buildings are named, while also committing to combat sexual violence against students of color. Another student asked how students can feel safe reporting while stating that TUPD does not take student of color reports seriously.

The panel of administrators responded to questions from students in the audience and questions that were submitted online. The three continued to emphasized the need to change the culture on campus.

“Fundamentally this is about changing rape culture,” Fitts said. “It’s about getting everybody to talk about positive relationships, issues of coercive sex and really changing what occurs on this campus.”

The administration also brought attention to the recent changes in process for Title IX cases, the new requirement of intrinsic bias tests among administrators and the student task force.

With the event already surpassing its scheduled time by an hour, the conversation about the results of the survey and what the next steps will be will continue as students await more answers and plans from the administration.

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