Students Against Sexual Assault, an extension of the A.S. Human Rights Board, has made progress with its list of Asks regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus, following meetings with members of UC Santa Barbara administration.
The first of the Asks requests the Campus, Advocacy, Resources and Education office (C.A.R.E.), Counseling and Psychological Services (C.A.P.S.), the UC Police Department and the Women’s Center, among others, to be required to attend an open town hall at the beginning of each quarter “for students to voice their questions and concerns.”
The updated version of the Asks says that the timing of the town hall must be confirmed with SASA at least three weeks in advance, “along with any administrative reports that will be discussed at the Town Hall.”
This first Ask has already begun implementation – there was a town hall on Nov. 7, and the next town hall is set for Feb. 25, according to Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA) director Emily Montalvo-Telford.
“I think the last town hall went well, I’m happy that we left the town hall with written-down agreements that we all talked about and what each individual in that room is responsible for,” Montalvo-Telford said.
“Those type of conversations with administration then kind of morphed these [updated] Asks.”
Montalvo-Telford added that SASA has spoken to multiple members of UCSB administration in order to begin implementing the rest of the Asks, including Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn, UCSB Title IX Officer Ariana Alvarez, C.A.R.E. director Briana Conway and Dean of Student Life Katya Armistead, among others.
The second Ask says that UCSB must provide SASA with “five thousand dollars annually and by the start of the fiscal year— beginning in 2019— in order to organize a campus-wide campaign regarding affirmative consent.”
The original list of Asks did not specify the amount needed to fund the campaign.
Montalvo-Telford said SASA hasn’t spoken to administration about this Ask yet.
“I assume Margaret would be the best person to speak to about this,” Montalvo-Telford said. “I believe it’s absolutely necessary that we receive this amount of funds.”
Montalvo-Telford clarified that SASA does not believe that these funds should be coming from student fees, and instead the funds should be coming from “the university itself.”
The third Ask says that the UCSB Title IX office “must provide an annual Public Accountability Report as modeled by the UCLA Title IX office.”
The updated list of Asks adds that the UCSB Title IX office “must redesign their website to make the information more accessible to students, faculty, and staff.”
Montalvo-Telford said that there seems to be some pushback from administration in regards to updating UCSB’s Public Accountability Report so it models UCLA’s, but she is confident that SASA can “work something out” with the administration.
UCSB administration has yet to agree to make amendments to its current Public Accountability Report.
“We definitely need to have more conversations about what this Public Accountability Report would look like for our campus,” Montalvo-Telford said.
UCLA’s Public Accountability Report provides “anonymized descriptive statistics about complaints, investigations, and sanctions that have been meted out in the past,” according to UCLA’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion website page.
“The difference between our campus and the UCLA campus, to my knowledge, is that the UCLA Title IX office and the UCLA Discrimination Prevention office work together to produce this report, versus here, there seems to be a greater distinction between [those two entities] when they’re producing these numbers,” Montalvo-Telford said.
“The Public Accountability report provided by the UCLA office is so much more thorough, has more information, and it’s just easier to read, it’s easier to understand, easier to follow,” she added. “While it is about the content, it’s also about how easy that content is to be absorbed.”
The Title IX office has said that they made edits to the website in order to increase accessibility, according to Montalvo-Telford.
The fourth Ask was not on the original list of Asks – it says that UCSB “must make C.A.R.E.’s Standard of Excellence Training mandatory for OSL organizations and sports teams/clubs.”
The fifth Ask is new as well, adding that the C.A.R.E office “must provide online access to their Standard of Excellence Training modules regarding healthy relationships and sexual violence and sexual harassment prevention.”
In order to address both of these Asks, SASA has created subcommittees that consist of Alvarez, Conway, Associate Dean of Students Kim Equinoa, and Director of the Office of Student Life Miles Ashlock.
Montalvo-Telford said that the subcommittees are “working together to try to figure out the most realistic and effective way to implement [the Asks].”
Currently, the fraternities and sororities are the only organizations required to undergo the Standard of Excellence Training. However, Montalvo-Telford wants that to expand that. She said she believes that the fourth Ask is feasible.
“We’re not suggesting that the same methods be used to implement the Standard of Excellence Training that is provided by C.A.R.E., what we’re suggesting is that there is a way to make this training mandatory for different groups on campus.”
The first subcommittee meeting is this week, according to Montalvo-Telford.
The final updated Ask states that UCSB must “provide online access to the Gaucho FYI content.”
Additionally, SASA “must be provided an opportunity to contribute to and review Gaucho FYI material upon any decisions to alter any content.”
Montalvo-Telford said that this final updated Ask is “in its route to being met.”
SASA has spoken to Equinoa about creating an “online, accessible format of Gaucho FYI” and that Equinoa confirmed that it was possible, according to Montalvo-Telford. Montalvo-Telford believes it can be implemented in time for next year’s Gaucho FYI content.
SASA also plans to work with administration to provide next year’s Gaucho FYI presentation.
“To my understanding, what Kim has agreed to right now is allowing us to review the content, give any suggestions we might have,” Montalvo-Telford said. “It has not been said specifically that we have voting power [on the content] but that could be the product of a further conversation.”
Overall, Montalvo-Telford is satisfied with the progress that has been made regarding the Asks, and she believes that the administration has been very upfront and realistic with SASA.
“It’s always going to be hard when you’re working with so many different offices trying to figure out the correct solution, but we have been able come together in a room, spit out ideas, and work with each other.”
A version of this article appeared on page 4 of the Feb. 20, 2019 print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Simren Verma is the university news editor of the Daily Nexus and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.