Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Consent agenda

An anonymous group of sexual assault survivors and allies in the University of Michigan community have posted a list of demands the M on the Diag. As well as chalk-painted "EXPEL RAPISTS" and "ADMINS DEFEND RAPISTS" in large letters in the surrounding area. Their demands were also published in an anonymous opinion in today's Michigan Daily:

1. We demand a mandatory, unified training system for all incoming students regarding sexual assault to be completed BEFORE coming to campus. The new training must have a clear focus on consent, include bystander intervention, explain university policies and procedures regarding sexual assault, and use gender inclusive language. A failure to complete the training must result in unenrollment.

2. All affiliated fraternity, sorority, and cooperative houses must have a sign with a comprehensive definition of consent in their common areas.

3. Athlete and non-athlete students must be held in the same regard and held accountable for their actions. Athletics, despite its autonomy from the University, must have concrete and well-known policies in place to respond to instances of sexual violence.

4. All DPS, faculty, and staff must undergo extremely thorough sexual assault prevention and response training that is comprehensive and unified across all departments. The current, surface-level training is not enough.

5. Survivors of sexual violence must have the option for the perpetrator to be expelled from the University of Michigan.

6. Support must increase for survivors of sexual violence. Support can include, but is not limited to, immediate counseling and removal of the perpetrator from communities surrounding the survivor. Sources of support must be accessible and well-advertised. While SAPAC exists, it is only a start.

7. All input regarding sexual assault awareness policies must center the needs and voices of survivors and experts. Other communities, specifically underrepresented groups and minorities, must be included in all conversations. No group on this campus may be silenced.

This strategy seems like a good way to get the conversation started regarding affirmative consent and the prevention of sexual assault in the U of M community. During welcome week way back in 2002 when I was a first year at Kalamazoo College, my peers and I had to attend a one day seminar on consent and sex. At the time, it was a little awkward, but in retrospect I think it was a good way to make sure all of the incoming students were on the same page. I don't know if something similar exists for incoming students at U of M.

I think the group responsible for this manifesto has done a really good job getting their message out publicly. When I saw the chalk-painted writing on the Diag, I assumed they were spray-painted and was surprised that they weren't being scrubbed off already. The messaging here does a great job of almost crossing the line, while still being respectful of U of M property.

Also, sorry for the punny title.

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