USG sexual violence town hall addresses climate survey updates


Amy Nankin | News Editor

Amy Nankin, News Editor

On Tuesday, Tulane’s Undergraduate Student Government hosted its annual Sexual Violence Town Hall, a platform for students to voice concerns about sexual violence on campus. 

The Sexual Violence Town Hall was created following the campus-wide Climate Survey in 2018. The success of the event led to the town hall becoming an annual event as a part of the Tulane All In campaign. This year’s town hall was proctored by USG President Joseph Sotile and USG Director of Health and Wellness Lakia Williams and was organized by Christina Krisberg, USG director of sexual violence prevention. 

President Mike Fitts opened the town hall. The rest of the event featured a panel of six student leaders and professional staff: Alicia Czachowski, director of public health initiatives and assessment; Grace Hindmarch, president of Sexual Aggression Peer Healthline and Education; Christina Krisberg; Title XI Coordinator Meredith Smith; Scott Tims, assistant vice president of Campus Health; and Erica Woodley, assistant vice president and Dean of Students. The evening was split into two parts, a Q&A session with the panel and a roundtable discussion. 

“We need to create a culture shift at what goes on at Tulane University, and this event is one of the many steps we were taking to try to create that change,” Fitts said. “The campus climate survey proved to us that what we thought we were doing which was state of the art at preventing sexual violence on our campus was not really working, so in true Tulane fashion we all got together, the entire community, student leaders and advocates, and committed ourselves truly to make everlasting change.”

The panel answered questions on a range of issues, from whether the university is doing enough to educate students on sexual violence during orientation to how the school is responding to LGBTQ students and students of color being disproportionally affected by sexual violence. Typically one to two panelists responded to each question raised, and much of the conversation was centered around the new initiatives, clubs and programs that have been created to solve the issues raised by students. 

Scott Tims prided the campus on the All In campaign and the multitude of bases the administration is attempting to cover by highlighting the newsletter, the revamp of the All In website, the Student Coalition and more. 

“We set up a series of goals and objectives and strategies really based on climate survey results, and we were trying to imagine what could be and what we could do differently with different resources,” Tims said. “We’ve continued to collect data to engage the climate around sexual assault and we hope to be able to talk about the plans for future climate surveys very shortly. We have a meeting on Friday to lay out the framework.”

The panelists concluded the Q&A session with recommendations for how students can get involved in the conversation around sexual violence and continue to change the climate on campus. Panelists reflected on the steps Tulane is taking to combat sexual violence in response to the climate survey, and the attitudes of the students at the town hall itself reflected this change. 

“I think that the post-climate survey town hall had a lot of emotion behind it …  those results were extremely upsetting and that was a place to process a lot of that as well as questions,” Meredith Smith said. “I think that we’ve been able to show a lot of progress since then, so a lot of these questions are about checking up on our progress and holding us accountable, but I think we’re all in a place where we understand exactly what the landscape looks like.”

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