Safe Campus Initiative: NJIT students take a stand against sexual violence

Home Campus Life Safe Campus Initiative: NJIT students take a stand against sexual violence

Gabrielle Rejouis, Mary Schneider

NJIT students take a stand against sexual violence—what you can do to support a safer campus.

In the past year, sexual assaults on college campuses have received major media attention. From the Columbia University case with Emma Sulkowicz, to the gang rape case in our backyard at William Paterson University, colleges and universities have been under a microscope when it comes to how they handle reports of sexual violence.

It makes my stomach turn to think a student can be assaulted on a campus and no serious action is taken by administration to bring justice. Sexual assault is a people problem, not just a women’s issue. It’s important that we acknowledge sexual violence can occur to anyone regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

To see it end, we all need to band together to work towards its eradication. We need to support victims and not blame them for the unfortunate situation they have survived. If universities are transparent in how they treat sexual assault, there can be honest conversations about how we can discourage it from happening on our campus.

When reading about the scandals happening on other college campuses, I thought about NJIT. If we don’t want to be the next university covered in the media, what will it take for our school to be proactive and create a safer campus?

The steps the university can take to create a safe campus are as simple as installing more emergency blue lights so threatened students can get the attention of Public Safety in a crisis. Another simple step would be to hang more posters on campus following Residence Life’s initiative with statistics on sexual assault and detailing what constitutes consent.

Additionally, posters can be put up with information about services that the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services provides for those who have survived sexual assault, and remind students that they can find support after their traumatic experience.

Public Safety offers Rape Aggression Defense training for students to help teach self-defense. If incoming freshmen and transfers were required to take the course as a part of orientation, students might be more equipped to handle attacks.

By introducing more resources and programs, the university can be proactive in preventing future sexual assault while also providing support for those who have experienced it. By hiring more Title IX personnel, the university could help reduce the docket of the current Title IX officer, Jean Feeney, thus helping to speed up the process of handling and adjudicating sexual assault and sexual harassment complaints.

An alternative might be to create a committee of faculty and students to handle the process of addressing these complaints. Students can report incidents of sexual violence to faculty. Therefore, faculty should receive sensitivity training on how to handle such reports and what the next steps are to ensure that the student is taken care of properly.

Green Dot certification, a resource that the university can bring to campus to combat sexual violence, is one example of a curriculum that can further improve safety. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, this certification has helped cut sexual violence incidents at high schools in half. The training teaches participants how to be proactive bystanders and gives them the tools they need to make an intervention when they see an unhealthy situation.

Green Dot training teaches participants how to prevent all types of violence. It is not limited to sexual violence and can be used after college. Once trained, students and faculty can train others through the peer to peer training model. An investment made to send students to be trained or to bring instructors on campus will have broad, long-lasting impacts.

What can students do to push for and show support for a safe campus? We can start by forming a “He for She club where issues of gender discrimination can be discussed. Support the new Feminism@NJIT club and learn that supporting equality for women starts by treating everyone with respect.

Awareness is the key to change. Students can participate in Denim Day, April 26, 2015, and raise awareness about the fight against sexual violence by wearing denim to show what a sexual assault survivor wears does not constitute consent. Participate in the V-Day event the Murray Center will be sponsoring on February 13th to raise awareness of violence against women and how to combat it.

Students can ask the administration for more transparency and better communication about the resources available on campus, and ask for 24/7 aid in case of a sexual violence incident. The steps a student takes can be as simple as stopping someone from making a crude joke about rape, to supporting a friend and helping them report a sexual assault.

Students should unite against victim blaming among their peers. Or, it could be a big statement that starts a movement on campus. If we unite and start with small steps, then move on to the bigger ones, we can create a safer campus for future generations and become a model zero tolerance campus when it comes to sexual violence.

By Gabrielle Rejouis and Mary Schneider, in solidarity with: Kappa Xi Kappa Fraternity, Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity, Sigma Psi Kappa Sorority, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Jake Campbell, Project Dental All, Pre-Dental Society, Lamda Upsilon Lamda Fraternity Inc., Lamda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Inc., Alpha Sigma Tau Sorority, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Psi Upsilon Fraternity, Campus Crusade, Nucleus Yearbook, Pre-Law Society, Theta Chi Fraternity, and the NJIT Robotics Club.

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