A letter to the Community Regarding Sexual Assault Response Forums

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Dear Fellow USF Community Member,

Over the past few weeks, following the sexual assault incidents that have occurred on campus, individuals from the USF Community including: students, faculty, administration and additional San Francisco community members have met every Thursday at dead hour to participate in a community dialogue. The first forum following the incident was a space in which people could freely voice their opinions and reactions toward what happened, as well as addressing the community response thus far. Education about sexual assault was a key element at this forum, as well as addressing the response from the administration. The Colonel of the ROTC program at USF was also in attendance, and he addressed questions and concerns by community members.

The second forum was dedicated to talking about the ways in which we can take action, and bring awareness to the community. Community members decided on an initiative group they would like to participate in. Each group focuses on a different approach to addressing sexual assault on campus. These groups are geared towards, but not limited to, creating a women’s center on campus, women’s and men’s groups on campus, and a 24-hour sexual assault hotline for students to call; developing anonymous ways to report sexual assault, implementing a new student mandatory orientation on rape and sexual assault, general safety forums, “I consent” workshops, examining the USF drinking policy in relation to sexual assault, ROTC curriculum on the USF campus, raising awareness throughout Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, holding vigils on the USF campus, spurring curriculum development, cultural diversity requirement amendments for the entire student body, a more progressive sexual assault policy, and art projects to serve as a visual response to sexual violence.

Each specific group will address each individual form of community response, and take the initiative to implement the steps of action on campus. Currently, the structure for the Women’s & Men’s Support/Conversation groups have been developing. The current mission statement for the Women’s group includes forming a “group that seeks to provide open dialogue, support, advocacy, education and accessible resources to all USF women” as well as stating that the group will “collectively, work to break down societal gender structures and roles, and foster unity and empowerment in a safe space”. The pivotal role of this organization is to “create a community that encourages positive relationships and bonding among women,” in addition to “working in solidarity with other campus organizations… to commit to working in coalition to achieve social change.”

The entire community is invited to continue to meet to reflect, and discuss how each committee is implementing its goals and also ways in which we can support one another. Currently, community members are seeking the avenues in which funding can be received to make the steps of action a reality. This is not an isolated incident and it will not go un-addressed on this campus.

We hope that you will join in the conversation and take action on our campus! Come any Thursday during dead hour 12:15-1:15 Parina Lounge.

Thank you.

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