Petition to Incorporate Sexual Violence Education Into Required University Curriculum
We, the students and staff of Pacific University, petition the school, and demand that there be more efforts put into the education and prevention of sexual violence on our campus. We ask that prevention efforts be a mandatory part of the First Year Seminar curriculum.
Nationally, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 17 men will be sexually assaulted in college. These assaults will most often occur during the victim’s freshman or sophomore year. Despite our best efforts to prevent this through programs such as “Got Consent” and other scattered workshops, Pacific University is not exempt from these statistics. Evidence from the Division of Violence Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the, “Brief, one-session educational programs focused on increasing awareness or changing beliefs and attitudes” that we, as freshman, go through during orientation are not effective. While these orientation discussions and workshops are important, they are not effective in long-term sexual violence prevention. Because of the prevalence of sexual assaults early on in a student’s college career, it is important to supplement programs such as “Got Consent” with more discussions around sexual violence within the first six weeks of freshman year. Strategies include working towards creating discussion around building healthy and communicative relationships, addressing social norms and behaviors, and training bystanders to intervene. Sustained and continuous programs that address the root causes of sexual violence and the importance of bystander intervention are proven to be some of the most effective strategies in preventing sexual violence. We must implement these programs and others in order to change the dangerous social norms that contribute to sexual violence early on in a student’s college career. Pacific University can not allow sexual violence to occur at the rate in which it is when we have the ability to make a positive change and work to solve this issue on our own campus and do everything that we can to prevent a dangerous crime from inflicting our students.
Pacific University’s mission statement addresses their dedication to being “A diverse and sustainable community dedicated to discovery and excellence in teaching, scholarship and practice, Pacific University inspires students to think, care, create, and pursue justice in our world”. This statement reflects the effort and care that Pacific puts into the safety and growth of its students, and just as accurately reflects the passion that Pacific instills into its students to work for change and stand up for what they believe in. We, as students, have been taught to stand up for social justice and do what is right. We want to support sexual violence survivors and work to prevent further acts of Pacific claims to be “investing in exceptional people”, and implementing more effective, practical programs within the first six weeks of a student’s freshman year, Pacific administration and staff would be investing in their students in one of the best ways possible. We believe that by implementing preventative efforts into First Year Seminar is the most effective strategy for beginning to defuse the threat of sexual violence on our campus. There is currently a course this semester that is preparing passionate students to be peer mentors. By using these already trained students as tools to start discussion, educate incoming students, and set new social norms, these peers can facilitate workshops in FYS with no extra work for professors. We need to combat this issue as a community because the threat of sexual violence is not only a threat to our bodies as individuals, but a threat to the community as a whole. Protecting our students from sexual violence is in the best interest to everyone at Pacific, and if we work together, we can build a safer, healthier community.
“We have the capacity to stop sexual assault, support those who have survived it, and bring perpetrators to justice”
President Barack Obama, January 22, 2014