SA Senate pushes University to review Title IX policies

Media Credit: Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

SA President Peak Sen Chua signed a measure Monday creating the new governance and nominations committee, which is comprised of both chair-holding and non-chair holding senators.

The Student Association Senate unanimously passed a resolution Monday night calling on the University to reassess its sexual misconduct policies and increase transparency in the case process.

SA President Peak Sen Chua sponsored the resolution, called the “Supporting Survivors Act,” which was endorsed by SA Executive Vice President Sydney Nelson and Students Against Sexual Assault. The move comes as the University faces a federal investigation for allegedly mishandling a sexual violence complaint.

“We should better support our survivors here at the University,” Chua said, after asking senators to vote in favor of the measure.

Officials are have already ordered a review of Title IX procedures conducted by a group of outside experts.

The resolution urged officials to prioritize filling future vacancies in the Title IX office quickly. Three new Title IX staff members were hired earlier this month after a months-long search. The office previously faced high turnover, leaving Title IX Coordinator Rory Muhammed as the only full-time staff member for a time.

The resolution follows a senate measure last spring to support alumna and sexual assault survivor Aniqa Raihan who launched a petition to expel her assailant.

Bailey Bystry, a junior and vice president of SASA, said in an interview that while the University has comprehensive Title IX policies and procedures “on paper,” the experiences of sexual assault survivors often don’t match what they are promised.

“This is just a call to administrators and the University to remind them that we’re still here, we’re still holding you accountable for the guidelines you’ve set for yourself and the standards that we expect as far as survivor justice,” she said.

Bystry said the act – which is “not super specific” – demonstrates the new SA leadership’s commitment to the issue at the start of the academic year.

“This is sort of a foundation that we’re laying, and we’re going to be working on more specific changes going forward, both SASA and the Student Association,” she said.

The senate also unanimously approved a bill Monday replacing its leadership committee with a “governance and nominations committee” in an effort to increase its effectiveness.

Previously, the leadership committee was comprised of the chairs and vice chairs of the senate’s three standing committees: student life, academic affairs and finance. Following the change, the committee is now made up of one chair or vice chair member from each committee and one non-chair-holding member.

Sen. Jared Levinson, CCAS-U, said he sponsored the bill to encourage more transparency and participation in the SA among members who are not committee chairs.

“We are all highly qualified individuals,” Levinson said in an interview. “There is no reason why a committee should solely be composed of vice chairs and chairs, rather than include everybody in the senate body.”

Chua signed the legislation during the meeting, allowing the senate to nominate and confirm the members of the new committee.

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