Students at Midwestern State University in Texas are fuming because of the way that university leaders are dealing with sexual assault, according to Inside Higher Ed.
“Starting off with sexual misconduct,” Matthew Park, the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, “I hope that we don’t see another increase in reports as a result of last week’s activity,” referring to Spring Break. He then laughed.
This comment was captured in a video. That video was posted by local news and also onto Twitter.
A university spokesperson, Julie Gaynor, said that these comments were not inappropriate. According to Gaynor, Park gave a “sincere apology” when asked if his joke was appropriate or not. The Times Record News recorded this interaction. Park, according to the newspaper, said, “Thank you for calling me out because I know I’m not perfect as well. So thank you.”
This forum happened as a result of a digital campaign called #ComplicitMSU, which critiques the university for failing to take action against sexual assault. They have an anonymous Twitter account, which posts about these issues on a regular basis.
Ashlee Fandrich, a senior at Midwestern State, wrote a blog about #ComplicitMSU and experiences she and her friends have had while trying to fight against sexual assault on campus. She wasn’t able to attend the forum, and says that it was poorly advertised and during a time in which most students would have been in class.
Jaylon Williams, Secretary of the Student Government Association and a resident assistant of three years, was able to attend the forum and said that it felt like “it was just for show.”
Following the forum, the university is creating some new measures that students were made aware of on Thursday. These include:
- Beginning Monday, students involved in sexual misconduct cases will be assigned a case manager, who will keep them up to date on the status of investigations and more.
- A sexual assault response team has been created to help coordinate resources for survivors of sexual assault, with the involvement of both the health and counseling centers on campus.
- A position dedicated to handling Title IX and the Clery Act (which requires colleges to report certain crimes to the federal government), with an intended hiring date of midsummer.
These changes are a place to start, but will there be substantial change made on this campus?