Chancellor Yang and administrators work with student group #NowUCSB to discuss implementing new policies for survivor support and perpetrator punishment
Five months after students gathered for a 13-hour sit-in at Chancellor Henry T. Yang’s office to present 13 demands regarding campus sexual assault policy, administrators are continuing to collaborate with students on various improvements to support survivors and punish perpetrators.
The May sit-in led by student group #NowUCSB, formerly “It’s Not On Us, It’s On You,” resulted in Yang agreeing to consider a list of 13 demands, including stricter punishments for offenders, improved sensitivity training for faculty and staff and greater diversity among on-campus aid groups and the Isla Vista Foot Patrol (IVFP). The farthest-reaching policy change from the demands is a UC-wide requirement in June for all faculty and staff to undergo sexual violence and consent training. Other changes include increased sexual assault training for IVFP deputies and advertising for the Sexual Assault Survivor Fund on campus, which provides financial support to survivors to cover immediate expenses.
#NowUCSB leader and third-year Chican@ studies major Alejandra Melgoza said while an estimated 95 percent of the demands are in progress, the bureaucracy involved with certain demands has caused delayed implementation.
“So many survivors for so many years have been waiting for these changes to happen, and, right now, we have policy demands that we have to make happen,” Melgoza said. “Because of all the red tape we have to go through, it will take a long time.”
Melgoza said while the support of students and staff pressured the administration to make changes, ongoing education is still necessary to the movement’s success.
“I have been very grateful for the support from Associated Students, faculty, staff, grad students and workers across the campus,” Melgoza said. “It has made an impact, and people are aware of it, but it’s very important to highlight to the new incoming class. They need to know what happened last year so that they can support it.”
Senior Associate Dean of Student Life Debbie Fleming said with the start of the new academic year, more students will become involved in the campaign.
“There has been progress on many of the thirteen demands, though we have been waiting for students to return to get their feedback and involvement in several of the demand areas,” Fleming said in an email. “I am hoping to see a diverse group of students established with whom staff and administrators can meet on a regular, perhaps monthly, basis to discuss issues of sexual and interpersonal violence.”
#NowUCSB’s first three demands, which request students found guilty of sexual assault be immediately suspended for a minimum of four quarters and removed from campus, have to be approved by UC Office of the President. According to Fleming, the President’s Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault will soon release updated UC-wide policies.
“There is a system-wide committee that is part of President Napolitano’s Taskforce on Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault that is about to issue new UC adjudication and sanctioning guidelines, so the Office of Judicial Affairs is waiting for these guidelines to inform any changes related to adjudication of sexual assault cases and disciplinary sanctions,” Fleming said in an email.
UConsent coordinator, Take Back the Night co-chair and fourth-year global and feminist studies double-major Ashley Morgan said the University is “dragging their feet” in addressing students’ demands for improved sexual assault policies.
“I don’t think anyone is surprised that the university has delayed putting the demands into effect, given their history of handling cases of sexual assault and their initial resistance to these ideas,” Morgan said in an email.
Morgan said she is hopeful the demands will soon be implemented.
“I think [administrators] are beginning to realize that by helping this forward, they are paving the way for the UCs in terms of sexual assault reform,” Morgan said in an email. “I’m hoping that this notion, along with constant pressure from those involved, will get these demands implemented within this school year.”
According to Melgoza, there is still a long way to go before survivors of sexual assault receive sufficient support from the University.
“These are the lives of students; their power was taken away,” Melgoza said. “It’s important to acknowledge that fact and make sure those survivors are given that power again.”
A version of this story appeared on page 6 of the Thursday, October 8, 2015 print edition of the Daily Nexus.