The Gettysburgian recently published numerous pieces regarding the implications of an article written last year by the chosen student Commencement speaker, Joshua Wagner, in which he utilized satire to highlight the topic of sexual assault on campus. Some have expressed the article was an effective use of satire to discuss the important issue of sexual assault, while others have shared it is never appropriate to talk about sexual assault in this manner.
One thing is clear: Sexual assault is a serious concern in our society, and Gettysburg is not immune to this national problem. While great strides have been taken to educate and prevent sexual assault on our campus, it’s also clear that our work is far from over. I agree with many of Emma Stejbach’s recommendations for change in her recent post, “13 Reasons Why Rape Culture Has Persisted, and 13 Ways to Fix It.” We need to strive to engage all members of our community in stopping sexual violence.
I read the comments on the recent petition that was circulated, and while it did not include names to protect individual privacy, the brave students who shared personal accounts have been, and will continue to be, greatly impacted by sexual assault, dating violence, stalking, and all forms of sexual misconduct.
The College takes all reports of sexual assault seriously and has clear policies in place designed to provide students with options and to hold those violating our community standards accountable. While education and training have led to an overall increase in the reporting of incidents, it is important to note that not all incidents are reported. Of the incidents that are reported, not all students elect to go through a formal process leading to formal sanctions.
As the 2017 campus grant from the US Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women concludes, our plan is to focus on a coordinated and collaborative approach to violence prevention that involves all students and student organizations. Many organizations on campus are providing education on this topic, and we need to highlight and coordinate all efforts to reduce sexual and relationship violence on our campus. We will continue to build on resources and supports in place, furthering the work our community has begun. Having a full-time Director of Title IX has allowed us to implement best practices for sexual misconduct policy, prevention, and education.
This week, the Office of Violence Prevention and the Women’s Center are providing a space for members of the community to express their concerns about sexual assault through a variety of ways. The goal is to hear from members of the campus community about where we need to do better, how we can reach the community about the efforts from The Office of Violence Prevention, and what our campus community wants to see moving forward.
We know that college communities across the country expect action to be taken in terms of stopping sexual assault on campuses. We agree this is imperative. And to do this requires frequent and ongoing communication, both in terms of personal communication and through forums such as these. We must be poised to hear one another when survivors of sexual assault speak up and speak out. When we do, more people will speak up and we can face these challenges and begin to heal, together.
Julie L. Ramsey, Ed.D.
Vice President for College Life and Dean of Students