Continuing the fight against sexual assault

12-01-2014

As we approach the end of the semester, it is a good time to pause and reflect on one of the greatest challenges facing college campuses, including ours: creating a safe, respectful learning environment free of sexual assault and harassment.

During the fall semester, MSU’s leaders, faculty, and staff have continued to seek ways to improve MSU’s ability to respond effectively to sexual violence. To this end, MSU pulled together representatives from across campus to serve on a task force that will review university programs and initiatives to identify ways the university can reduce the occurrence of relationship violence and sexual misconduct and increase reporting when it occurs. The University Task Force on Sexual Assault, which had its first meeting in mid-November, builds on work done by a task force of the same name in 2004. This commitment—this determination to regularly look for ways to improve—is part of the way we work at MSU, and it reflects our values.

As I said in my September 2 letter to the campus community, sexual assault is a serious problem on American college campuses, and ours is no exception. It will take leadership from all quarters to create the change necessary. I commend our students for the way they have stepped forward. Featured below is a video created by Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) as part of the national It’s On Us campaign.  And earlier this year, a group of eight current and recently graduated students released a documentary film, “Every Two Minutes,” with a powerful message about the impact of sexual assault. The film’s producer, Laura Swanson, recently received a national grant award for her work to raise awareness of sexual violence. This kind of work encourages frank conversations and open dialog, while at the same time building a culture of respect and concern for one another.

I encourage all members of the Spartan community to watch these videos. But I ask you to do more. Take it upon yourself to address this issue in whatever way you can. Sexual assault is everyone’s problem, and it’s on all of us to take action, whether that means protecting a fellow Spartan from sexual violence, providing support to a survivor, or raising awareness on campus or in your home. Members of the MSU community must not be passive.

I look forward to updating you next semester about the recommendations from the task force and other progress on this issue. Remember: There is no excuse for sexual assault.

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