Task Force lacks teeth, assaults persist

From Mockingbird Lane, to the residence halls and even (no surprise here) frat houses across campus, a familiar crisis is once again rearing its head. Students reported three sexual assaults in the first three weeks of school. Last year no sexual misconduct was reported until Sept. 23. As a community, we’ve failed to curb these actions, and the administration’s efforts to reduce the number of sexual assaults have fallen short.
Unfortunately for us, these failures don’t stop in a conference room – they spill over into our lives on campus, making our streets less safe and cheapening our academic experience.
As of last semester, President R. Gerald Turner’s Task Force on Sexual Misconduct made 41 recommendations to reduce the number of sexual assaults on campus. The recommendations made headway encouraging students to report sexual assaults, but little was done to address why the student body struggles with this issue. With a crisis that needs to be managed by students, only three undergraduates were consulted to contribute to the Task Force.
While it’s undeniable that the Task Force has encouraged students to report sexual misconduct, the group’s recommendations neglected assault prevention. The responsibility of reducing sexual assaults at the source is on us as a student body, and we can’t rely on the administration to broadcast public statements condemning recent events.
Turner’s recent letter to the editor in The Daily Campus is nothing more than rhetorical damage control.
Given the increase in reported sexual assaults at the outset of this semester and the alleged hate crime carried out in a residence hall, we need to forgo rhetorical fluff and instead encourage sense.
Common sense helps on the one hand – we can better recognize threats and stop putting ourselves in unsafe positions if at all possible. However, uncommon sense is also necessary; occasionally times require us to push against the tide and hold our peers accountable even if it’s uncomfortable.
We call the student body to criticize itself as a community and air out its negativity. In public forums, in town halls or in conversations with friends, let’s be open with each other and work to understand why a handful of our peers continue to perpetrate sexual assaults.
Let’s be open with each other and work to ensure that “Every Mustang will be valued” is more than just a catchy phrase to put on T-shirts. Let’s be open with each other and work so that from Dallas Hall, to sorority row, to even as far as the Katy Trail, we can feel safe among our peers.

Haidar is a junior majoring in journalism.

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