SG plans for sexual assault initiative

Matthew Adams

Student Government members introduced a resolution in support of sexual assault prevention and self-defense education in new student curriculum.

Legislation co-author Jennifer McGinty said the resolution will show University leadership, such as President Gregory Fenves, how serious students are about the issue.

“It is good to have legislation that says Student Government supports this, since we are the official voice of the students and since we have something in writing that says the student body wants this,” McGinty said. “This gives more credit to getting that to actually happen and making sure President Fenves knows this is a student initiative and not just from one or two girls who are writing legislation.”

The legilsation was written following the late-September release of a sexual assault study by the Association of American Universities, which found that almost one in five women reported being sexually assaulted since their enrollment at UT. 

“Sexual assault is never the fault of the survivor,” Voices Against Violence, a campus resource that speaks out against interpersonal violence, wrote in the resolution, A.R. 13. “There is no excuse for sexual assault; eliminating rape culture and creating a culture of consent is vital to the safety of UT students; and in the event of sexual assault, the survivor has the right to counseling, administrative and emotional support, fair and prompt reporting, and criminal investigation.”

Going forward, McGinty said adding more training, such as online modules for defense training, can help students feel safer. 

“By making this an elective and providing some hours for students, more would come out for the training,” Edward Banner, the engineering representative for Student Government, said.

McGinty said this is a beneficial thing to add because, while UTPD has a course in place, incoming students are not as familiar with it because it is not as easily accessible.

Grace Gilker, Women’s Relations Agency director and co-author of the legislation, said she looks forward to broadening approval of the legislation before discussing the it with University officials.

“We have been working with several members of SG,” Gilker, said. “We have met with UTPD, and we will meet with President Fenves later in November. We want to add SG’s coalition to this support.”  

Taral Patel, chief of staff of Student Government, said at next week’s meeting, Student Government would introduce the Safe Campus Act, which mirrors legislation written by the Texas Senate this
past session. 

“What it essentially does is the victim would be required to report this crime,” Patel said. “UT has come out against this bill, and this is something we are working on to finding ways to address.”

Correction: The article incorrectly cited an organization as Voices of Violence. Voices Against Violence is the correct name.