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Action Project Issue, March 2017
A culture of sexual violence More than 1 in 4 women will be assaulted at UW-Madison
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“…the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.”
Action Project Issue, March 2017
Advocates say common stereotypes of the ‘perfect victim’ don’t encompass survivors’ experiences of sexual assault Story by Luisa de Vogel
fter leaving a party her freshman year, UW-Madison student Alexandra Adams was sexually assaulted by a friend she had a crush on. The next morning, he dismissively tossed her clothing on the bed and didn’t say goodbye as she left his apartment. It wasn’t until a conversation with her nurse practitioner months after the party that Adams began using the word “assault” to describe her experience. “She said, ‘I don’t want to label this for you, but it sounds like assault to me,’ and I was like wow, yeah it really was. I wasn’t cool with everything that was going on. He masked disrespect in this very charismatic, opportunistic way, and it took me the rest of freshman year, and probably up until now, to make sense of it” Adams said.
“In some ways the Alec Cook coverage was good in that it reinforced that this might be the person in your classroom, this might be a person that you know.” Melanie Murchison professor UW-Madison
The prevailing narrative around sexual assault is that women are in danger of sexual violence from strangers lurking in dark alleys, parking lots and bushes, according to Melanie Murchison, a professor in the UW-Madison legal studies department.
However, data reveals the threat may lie closer to home. About 60 percent of reported sexual assaults at UW-Madison were committed by a friend or acquaintance of the survivor, according to a 2015 American Association of Universities’ survey. But the cultural narrative around sexual assault de-legitimizes women assaulted by someone close to them, UHS Violence prevention and Survivor Services Team Manager Carmen Juniper Neimeko said. “People are taught to believe that rape is when someone out of the bushes forces you down to the ground and it’s really violent and there is a gun,” Juniper Neimeko said. “If that’s our dominant narrative, and what happened to you is the last thing you remember was dancing, and then kind of making out and you woke up without clothes on next to this guy you’ve had a crush on for three months, how does that fit into your dominant narrative and what you’ve been taught to believe?” Adams echoed this sentiment, stating she sometimes wonders if she has the right to call herself a survivor of sexual assault. “There’s a textbook definition for sexual assault or rape. Sometimes I don’t feel like I don’t fit,” Adams said. “Like there’s someone who experienced worse physical pain than I did, or more emotional pain than I did.” Murchison said portrayals of sexual assault in the media perpetuate false stereotypes about survivors, sending a belittling message to survivors of acquaintance assault that may also affect reporting rates. “We create a vision of perfect victims who have done nothing wrong and who could not have in any way expected or prevented their victimization,” said Murchison. This portrayal has real consequences for how survivors
view themselves, and the culture of reporting, according to both Juniper Neimeko and Murchison. This was case with Adams, who said she didn’t feel represented in both media coverage and conversations on campus surrounding sexual assault.
“There’s a textbook definition for sexual assault or rape. Sometimes I feel like I don’t fit. Like there’s someone who experienced worse physical pain than I did, or more emotional pain than I did.” Alexandra Adams student UW-Madison
“When they talk about assault on the news, it’s often about successful penetration or sometimes goes down to the detail of what exactly happened in the violation, that’s something that sometimes I don’t feel like I’ve met,” Adams. “It’s a feeling of not being hurt enough to qualify.” Last f all semester, UW-Madison student Alec Cook garnered national media attention after being accused and subsequently arrested for several violent sexual assaults. Nearly a dozen women have since come forward to report him, and he faces 21 criminal charges. News coverage of the violence in Cook’s case has been explicitly described—with words like “choked,” “strangulation” and “tormented”—but Murchison said the reports have actually helped dispel the myth of a “perfect victim.” “I think in some ways the Alec Cook coverage was good in
that it reinforced that this might be the person in your classroom, this might be a person that you know,” Murchison said. “I think it was a wake up call to a lot of individuals who thought that this happened in the movies or bad neighborhoods or bad people, but actually this happens to my neighbor or my classmate, and this is perpetrated by my neighbor or my classmate.” Following Cook’s arrest, the university and UW-Madison Police Department put out additional information about how to combat rape culture and report assaults, which Murchison said helped dispel common and harmful rape myths. At UW-Madison, acquaintance rape is not uncommon. And Juniper Neimeko thinks it may be an even more common than reporting rates reveal. Twenty percent of sexual assaults facilitated by alcohol were committed by a partner or someone the survivor had previously been intimate with, according to the AAU campus climate survey. Almost 90 percent of sexual assaults at UW-Madison took place in either the victim or the perpetrators home. This survey—which found that more than 25 percent of women at UW-Madison would be sexually assaulted during their time on campus—showed that the majority of survivors did not ever report their assault to university or police officials. Adams, who has mutual friends with her assailant, never reported her experience. And students are even less likely to report sexual assault committed by someone they are close to, especially when the assault occurs between two individuals within the same friend group, according to Juniper Neimeko. Murchison said the myth that rape most often occurs at the
OWEN DESAI/THE DAILY CARDINAL
Former UW-Madison student Alec Cook, facing over 21 criminal charges including sexual assault, lived in an apartment on Henry Street.
hands of a stranger, has been used to control women’s freedom and reduce a person’s autonomy. “The idea that they should be afraid in parking lots or dark alleys or when there’s lots of bushes, that they should always have a buddy with them, it really limits their self-confidence,” said Murchison. “Women report having lower levels of self-confidence than men, and I think that’s part of a socialization issue. We teach women to be afraid.” Marissa Dempsey, communications chair for Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment, echoed this sentiment, adding that the belief in this myth contributes to a broader culture of sexism. “We often talk about how women should be scared and often are scared walking down the street, and I think it might be something to do with power and control,” Dempsey said. “While not all victims are female and not all perpetrators are men, it has a kind of misogynistic quality to it.”
“We create a vision of perfect victims who have done nothing wrong and who could not have in any way expected or prevented their victimization.” Melanie Murchison professor UW-Madison
Dempsey added that belief in this rape myth may make it more difficult for bystanders to recognize when a sexual assault has occurred between two friends. University Health Services aims to educate students about the realities of sexual assault through the Tonight program, which teaches first-year students intervention tactics by addressing popular rape myths. The core issue that Tonight tries to address is that “people manipulating trust and friendship and courtship to gain access to people’s bodies” is sexual assault, said Juniper Neimeko. The Tonight program names the red flags Juniper Neimeko said are “not a dark path in the woods, but as the cute guy at the party who is filling your beer cup up so repeatedly you actually don’t know how much you are drinking.” Adams’ experience of sexual assault largely falls in-line with Juniper Neimeko’s description rather than what Murchison described as popular portrayals in media. Adams also stressed the importance for education about consent, as she still does not know if her assailant realizes that she did not consent to the experience. “Rapists hide in the shadow of what seems to be friendly … in order to render their victims incapacitated and useless so they can use their bodies,” Juniper Neimeko said.
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Action Project Issue, March 2017
How PTSD affects sexual assault survivors By Julie Spitzer THE DAILY CARDINAL
Those who experience an emotional trauma are at a greater risk for revictimization due in part to an onset of post traumatic stress disorder. But, a stronger understanding of the human brain’s processes may help reduce the risk and severity of these symptoms, thereby reducing the risk for revictimization, researchers say. The general model of PTSD would predict hypervigilance in individuals who have already undergone a trauma, but that is not always the case, explained Josh Cisler, the principal investigator of the Neurocircuitry of Trauma and PTSD lab. This is the phenomenon of revictimization, which refers to the notion that those who experience abuse once in their past are likely to experience it again. A survivor’s social behaviors change, putting them at a greater risk for experiencing another attack; they may be less self-assertive or judge situations differently, often perceiving them as less dangerous. Cisler’s research takes a twist on the more holistic approach to PTSD by focusing on neurocircuitry responses after undergoing sexual assault and how that psychopathology may place someone at a greater risk for revictimization. “Most people don’t talk about this problem … the ultimate goal would be that the work that we do informs some kind of treatment,” Cisler said. Ninety-four percent of sexual assault survivors develop symptoms of PTSD after an attack and 30 percent sustain those symptoms on some spectrum of severity up to
nine months later. Cisler emphasized that those who feel they have a solid support system often heal faster. “One of the best protectors against PTSD is social support,” Cisler said, explaining that a survivor should feel they have people they can open up to. “The act of disclosing is certainly helpful but it’s more so …. making sure t h a t
important so women who have been victimized by sexual assault don’t internalize that,” Esbensen said. If a person is conscious during a sexual assault, regardless of intoxication, their fear circuitry kicks in and immediately dominates brain functioning. Instantly, the prefrontal cortex is
JULIE SPITZER/THE DAILY CARDINAL [they’ve] impaired got a group of friends due to a rush of to turn.” stress chemicals, affecting the indiCisler’s study coordinator, vidual’s ability to think rationally. Karyn Esbensen, added that the The person’s reflex responses take more self-blame a woman has for control; in other words fight, flight her assault, the more severe the or freeze. During the fear circuitry symptoms may be. response, freeze often dominates. “Avoiding victim-blaming is really The freezing response occurs
when the amygdala first detects an attack, signalling the brainstem to stop all movement. It acts as a primer for the fight or flight, but neither necessarily follow. In most traumatic situations, like those experinced by members of the military mid-battle, responses are well-trained, nearly conditioned responses. While still sus-
ceptible to P T S D, soldiers h a v e formed e f f e c tive habit responses which help lift themselves out of the freeze stage more quickly. During the fear circuitry, a survivor must rely only on their innate responses, which are primarily social. This process, since not well-trained, often ignores
fight or flight responses and allows extreme survival reflexes to dominate. Survivors may describe a dissociation from oneself—a feeling of autopilot control—or other forms of immobility that hinder their ability to speak or cause them to pass out. What the fear circuitry focused on during the assault may influence central details in the memory of a survivor. These memories, although often recalls of seemingly miniscule details like the pattern of wallpaper, are more likely to be accurate and consistent and often become highly valued during investigations. Fear acts most commonly on the hippocampus’ ability to encode and store contextual information and time sequencing. Some studies suggest that the hippocampus temporarily enters a super-encoding stage right when the fear kicks in, leading to a nearly perfect recall of events just before and after the attack. However, memories of the attack, encoded when the brain ended its super-encoding mode, tend to be fragmented and incomplete. In order to gain a stronger understanding of these phenomenon, Cisler’s lab is currently recruiting study participants. Women who have experienced physical or sexual abuse and are between the ages of 21 and 50 are encouraged to reach out to the NeuroTaP Lab. “The more bad things happen to you, the more likely you are to have [other] bad things happen to you,” Cisler said, explaining abuse is a risk factor for mental disorders in addition to cancers and other diseases. “So if we can stop that cycle of violence, or victimization, then we can decrease that risk.”
‘Balancing act’: Inclusivity in campaigns for sexual assault prevention still elusive paign was based off the recent Campus Climate survey, reporting 98 percent of perpetrators are male. Lovicott said UWPD worked with the LGBT Campus Center on this initiative and the department felt the Center’s campaigns were sufficient for other types of sexual assault prevention tactics.
“Every survivor deserves care and compassion and choice.” SYDNEY WIDELL/THE DAILY CARDINAL
“Don’t Be That Guy” posters hang in residence halls on campus. By Hannah J. Olson THE DAILY CARDINAL
Although the statistical majority of perpetrators are men, anyone can be a survivor of sexual assault. On campus, addressing survivors holding identities other than straight women is complex. The 2015 UW-Madison AAU Campus Climate Survey revealed 16 percent of non-heterosexual males and 43 percent of non-heterosexual females experienced sexual misconduct and/or assault during their time on campus. Transgender and gender non-binary people were not accounted for due to low numbers. Though the chance of being raped is higher for individuals holding one
of these identities, the odds of seeing preventative campaigns and nonheteronormative dialogue is low. The UW-Madison Police Department launched the “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign in 2015, which targeted male perpetrators with heteronormative imagery. In one image a woman glances at the camera in distress, a man’s arm around her, with the photo captioned, “Getting drunk doesn’t give you permission to take advantage of someone.” Another advertisement features a woman, passed out in bed on a couch, with the words “Consent is clearly yes—not the absence of no.” According to UWPD spokesperson Marc Lovicott, the cam-
Carmen Juniper Neimeko End Violence on Campus Director UHS
At University Health Services, staff work to provide wide-ranging prevention and care. Last year, this led to an additional requirement for all incoming students. The Wise workshops are the Tonight program’s in-person component, with topics ranging from dating, sex, LGBT specific topics and coping strategies for survivors of sexual assault. Within UHS, mental health services are implementing an LGBTspecific counselor as well. These changes, UHS End Violence on Campus Director Carmen Juniper Neimeko said, aim to go deeper than Tonight and pro-
vide a “more trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive approach.” Aside from these changes, however, further steps are unclear. For UWPD, the “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign will remain unchanged. Other initiatives such as the “Tell Us” campaign, Lovicott explained, feature male and female offenders, which the department sees as inclusive. Juniper Neimeko, on the other hand, said addressing the issue of inclusion while also focusing on the statistical main source of the problem is multifaceted. “Most perpetrators are genderconforming, are cis[gender]-men, are straight men, who have access to sex and who perpetuate, both against other men and women and that doesn’t go away,” Juniper Neimeko said. “So doing targeted interventions that address gender in a gender binary might not be super inclusive, but it might address a reality.” “I hear people when they say, ‘that doesn’t feel like I got represented.’ I hear you,” Juniper Neimeko said. In the program utilized before Tonight in the late 2000s, one of the scenarios involved included a maleon-male assault. This backfired, according to Juniper Neimeko, resulting in greater homophobia from straight men who viewed the program, which at the time came in male and female viewing formats.
“So what does that mean, to be inclusive when it causes harm?” Juniper Neimeko said. Nevertheless, changes have been implemented to open up the Tonight program, re-recording voice-overs to “remove the gender binary,” as Juniper Neimeko explained, and working with students in an LBGT capstone class to re-evaluate the program’s effectiveness. They found that many grapple with the desire to be represented and the fear of that action only reinforcing LGBT stereotypes in non-LGBT viewers.
“I hear people when they say, ‘that doesn’t feel like I got represented.’ I hear you.” Carmen Juniper Neimeko End Violence on Campus Director UHS
Juniper Neimeko said a lot of work still needs to be done. “When we think at UHS about working to prevent perpetration, we think through a public health lens, which both honors the experiences of individual survivors, but works to push the needle across the broad pervasiveness of the issue and that’s a hard balancing act,” Juniper Neimeko said.“Every survivor deserves care and compassion and choice.”
Action Project Issue, March 2017
An independent student newspaper, serving the University of Wisconsin-Madison community since 1892 Volume 126, Issue 45
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Understanding sexual assault on campus BY THEDA BERRY AND NEGASSI TESFAMICHAEL management team The fact that one in four women at UW-Madison will be sexually assaulted during their time here on campus has been discussed and reported on. In our second Action Project issue, we aim to go beyond previous reporting and survey results to give insight into how this number affects life on campus and what actions are being taken to address this violence in our community. In the context of the highprofile case against Alec Cook—a former UW-Madison student who is facing 21 criminal charges and reportedly assaulted 10 women— this topic has become all the more
urgent to explore. One focus in this Action Project Being intentional about lan- is explaining how UW-Madison guage is something advocates for handles sexual assault, including sexual assault survivors com- what constitutes evidence in unimonly stress—and the word “sur- versity decisions, and resources vivors” is a significant part of that. survivors may not be aware of As a managelike no contact ment team, orders. There are we decided to We hope this issue will give so many avenues use the term a more human and reflective of reporting on survivor over perspective on the statistics sexual assault victim in all that aren’t we hear so often. cases, except always explored direct quotain daily coverage, tions and in reference to survey but so badly need to be accessible data and reports framed with that and understandable to students. term. Many survivors of sexual We worked to make it evident assault tend to self-identify in this throughout this issue that The way, and we respect this choice, Daily Cardinal is a platform for partly due to our own understand- student voices to be heard. Aside ing of the power words have. from providing information about
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A cultural shift is required to fix or change rape culture
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resources for survivors of sexual assault, we hope this issue will give a more human and reflective perspective on the statistics we hear so often. Do you have a story to tell you’d like to share? Is there an issue related to sexual assault on campus we missed? We want to hear what you think. Please send all comments and concerns to Theda and Negassi at email@example.com. Our third installment of this series will come in April. This issue will be on stands through the end of this week and over spring break. If you’re looking for our daily coverage, check out dailycardinal.com and stay up to date.
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There is a need for a campus attitude and culture shift about sexual assault at UW-Madison, as well as nationally. MARIAM COKER opinion columnist
ape and the fear of rape is a part of the American college experience for women. On American college campuses, one in four undergraduate women will be sexually assaulted or raped by the time they graduate. Indicated by UW-Madison’s Association of American Universities Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault Climate Survey, our precious UW-Madison is no exception, with 27.6 percent of undergraduate female students reporting experiencing nonconsensual penetration or sexual touching. This climate survey had over 9,000 respondents, reflecting over 22 percent participation on campus—far more participants than in similar surveys by other institutions. As women, we are taught to walk in pairs or triples, carry pepper spray, learn self-defense, walk in well-lit areas, and go to the bathroom together, all to prevent being sexually assaulted. Even within the first week of being at UW, I was warned never to go on “Rapeshore” path.
To change rape culture we need to think about sexual assault realistically. Sexual assault and rape hardly ever happens by a stranger in a dark alley that you will never see again. Life is not “Law and Order: SVU.” To change rape culture, there needs to be a change in how rape is talked about. To most people, a sexual assailant or a rapist looks like Alec Cook —a diabolical stranger. However, UW-Madison’s recent AAU Campus Climate report reiterated a commonly known fact about rape, that perpetrators “were overwhelmingly identified as fellow students who are male, often a friend or acquaintance.” The perpetrator is a friend, a boyfriend, a Tinder fling, a lab partner, a classmate, a neighbor, etc. At UW, perpetuation usually starts at a party, and often ends up at the dorms. The perpetrator is often a drunk college man. Why? On most American college campuses, alcohol is a key factor in sexual assaults. And expectedly at UW, recently named as the number one party school in the U.S., alcohol also plays a key role in sexual assaults. The aforemen-
tioned report also indicated that female students who experienced nonconsensual penetration (ie. rape) indicated that “the offender was drinking alcohol 76.1 percent of the time.” However, at UW there is an additional factor: Greek life. The same report indicated “assaults were disproportionately reported in Greek residences.” It was found that over 25 percent of sexual assaults reported to UWPD in 2015 happened on Langdon Street, or “frat row.” Taking into account rules enforced on sorority houses that are not enforced on fraternity houses—like guest visitation limits, curfew and the lack of alcohol at parties—it becomes easier to pinpoint where these sexual assaults happen. However, finding out where sexual assaults happen was never an issue—it’s Langdon and residence halls. The report also indicated “assaults most commonly occurred in student residences such as private apartments and campus residence halls.” In 2015, about 25 percent of reported sexual assaults to UW-Madison Police Department happened in the residence halls, particularly ones with majority freshmen populations. We should be asking: Why these locations? What do they have in common? How are these locations related? The answer: They house and welcome primarily male and heteronormative communities and there is access to and the encouragement of experimentation with alcohol. These places are not necessarily filled with bad men, rather these men were not getting consent. When talking about a sexual assault or rape survivor, the focus is on them and what they did wrong, if they were dressed or acting a certain way. We should be asking the perpetrator: Did you get consent? Did you get a clear and direct “yes”? With the combination of alco-
hol and the encouragement of hypermasculinity, rape culture broods—there is entitlement to women’s bodies. There is no need or acknowledgment of consent. The root of rape culture is hypermasculinity. Men often have to prove their masculinity, and often times is proved involving violence against women. I have deduced all of this from my favorite speaker from UW-Riverfalls It’s On Us Summit, Keith Edwards. At this summit, over a hundred UW System leaders congregated for the purpose of learning about sexual assault as it pertains to college campuses. It was amazing to hear such wonderful speakers, like Edwards and Lynn Rosenthal, who served as the first White House Advisor on Violence Against Women from 2009-2015. It was also great to hear what other campuses and other students are doing to face these issues. From it I realized that one person alone cannot fix or change rape culture, it takes a cultural shift—an unlearning and relearning. We need to unlearn toxic masculinity and relearn something else. It is an issue if a quarter of all women who attend college will be sexually assaulted. This is a preventable issue. What can you do? Cut rape jokes, don’t negate people’s experience, and most importantly check your friends. If you see someone is way too drunk to do anything, do not let them go away with a stranger. Take that last drink from someone. If your friend is being creepy, tell him to back off. Walk someone home. Don’t be a passive bystander, and we’ll all take a big step in the right direction. Mariam is the vice chair of ASM. How do you think sexual assaults could be prevented on campus? Please send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Action Project Issue, March 2017
Greek life needs to take a more serious look at assault GARY HILL opinion columnist
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Segregated fees help to fund resources for sexual assault survivors and also general sexual health.
Choosing to opt out of segregated fees endangers our sexual health resources view Cardinal View editorials represent The Daily Cardinal’s organizational opinion. Each editorial is crafted independent of news coverage.
Allocable segregated fees—the approximately $90 each UW-Madison student pays along with their tuition every year— go toward funding many clubs, resources and services across campus. However, according to the new budget proposal from Gov. Scott Walker, these fees will be made optional for students. While saving money may sound appealing, the loss of segregated fees could be catastrophic for our campus community. While all organizations that rely on segregated fees for income are important, services that offer sexual health resources are especially important for the well-being and safety of students. Sex Out Loud, Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment and the Rape Crisis Center all heavily rely on funding from segregated fees to offer services to students such as free condoms and sex education, as well as resources and support for survivors of sexual assault.
The loss of segregated fees could be catastrophic for our campus community.
With diminishing segregated fees, our campus could lose integral sexual health resources like the ones listed above. PAVE—a student organization that focuses on empowering survivors of sexual assault—holds regular events featuring speakers on topics such as domestic abuse, stalking and overcoming challenges linked with sexual violence. They also have an office in the Student Activity Center, which is regularly staffed by trained students ready to help survivors of sexual assault. According to Cassidy Schroeder, student chair of PAVE, these resources could be slashed if students are given
the option to opt out, possibly reducing available funding. “If funding is cut off and all of a sudden we don’t have segregated fees, our staff would have to downsize their time,” Schroeder said. “For instance, I work 20 hours a week and that’s paid. As a working class student, I wouldn’t be able to give this much time to the job if it wasn’t paid.” The Rape Crisis Center, an off-campus service with a campus component that offers 24-hour hotline help, as well as survivors’ advocacy and counseling services, is also heavily reliant upon funding from segregated fees. According to Jaime Sathasivam, if the funding they received was cut, they would have to downsize the scope of their 24-hour services. “We currently always have two layers of 24-hour services—one person to answer phone calls and one person to go to for medical advocacy if needed,” Sathasivam said. “However, we may have to cut that to one layer if our funding diminished.” Sexual health resources such as PAVE, Sex Out Loud and the Rape Crisis Center are absolutely integral for the health and safety of all students on campus. Their services offer peace of mind, as well as information for students who are potentially facing some of the darkest times of their lives. If such services were to be cut or downsized because of insufficient funds, students would be losing services that could change their lives. While PAVE and the Rape Crisis Center help offer support and resources to survivors of sexual assault, Sex Out Loud approaches sexual health resources in a more sex-positive and educational way. This perspective is also key in the prevention of sexual assault on campus, as well as a healthy view of sex among students. Sex Out Loud program facilitator Miriam Kelberg prides the organization on creating a consent culture on campus, something that we desperately need. “Reframing the question of what and who sex is for is integral to consent culture and equality,” Kelberg said. Sex Out Loud focuses on a sex-positive and pleasure-inclusive approach to sex, removing stigma from the topic in a way that they hope will create a more healthy view toward sex, and will hopefully also reduce sexual assault in the process by promoting consent. However, without funding from
segregated fees, such education would be not as available. “We wouldn’t be able to do programs on campus, we wouldn’t be able to educate folks about [what] consent culture looks like, about condoms, about how we can check in with our partner about sexually transmitted infection testing,” Kelberg said. “None of that would be possible.”
With diminishing segregated fees, our campus could lose integral sexual health resources.
Segregated fees are divvied up and given to student organizations by the Associated Students of Madison’s Student Services Finance Committee through a pool called the General Student Services Fund under a system of viewpoint neutrality. This ensures that regardless of an organization’s beliefs, actions or leanings, their funding will not be affected, the ASM Grant Allocations Committee wrote in a Feb. 9 letter to the editor for The Daily Cardinal. “If the governor wants to argue that students should directly fund the events, travel and other expenses for the student organizations they do care about without having to pay for other things they don’t agree with, this doesn’t accomplish that,” the GAC said in the letter. “All this does is decrease the overall pool of funding that we have to pull from.” Sexual assault is a very real problem here at UW-Madison. Our students are affected at a rate that is higher than the national average. If we are to strip survivors of sexual assault of their resources on our campus, then we are only exacerbating the problem. If Walker and his administration truly want to better the student experience for thousands at UW-Madison, they will realize that the $90 we pay as segregated fees does more than just empty the pockets of students and their families. What are your thoughts on the impact that segregated fee changes will have? If you need to contact the Rape Crisis Center, their number is (608) 251-7273. Please send all comments, questions and concerns to email@example.com.
ollege campuses continue to boast horrifying statistics on sexual assault even with programs in place to help educate incoming students about how to identify and prevent high-risk situations in which sexual assault can occur. Representing a disproportionate percent of reported sexual assaults are Greek organizations on campus; longitudinal studies show fraternity men are three times more likely to commit sexual assault than other college men. As a man involved with Greek life at Madison, this statistic absolutely disgusts me and, like so many others, leaves me wondering what we can do to combat this. One in four women have reported experiencing sexual assault on campus and a majority of these cases report the assailant to be under the influence of alcohol. As a notorious drinking college, it’s no surprise that alcohol seems to play into the statistics regarding sexual assault. However, alcohol is not the only factor in the rising number of sexual assaults on campus, rather a history of misogynistic culture within fraternities takes a huge role in the degradation of women on campus. There has been an effort by the university and student organizations to bring awareness to the problem of sexual assault specifically within the Greek community. For example, there is a course offered titled Greek Men and Violence Prevention that is offered to men in fraternities. There are other organizations like We’re Better Than That that educate students about the dangers of sexual assault and violence and offer prevention techniques. Though these programs are a good step, they do not help promote anti-misogynistic ideals within individual Greek houses. Men in Greek communities at UW-Madison must make a wholehearted effort to protect potential victims by making sexual assault a serious issue within each chapter. It is easy for people to laugh at a joke taking a shot at women; however, it takes more bravery to stand against hate speech of any kind. Once sexual assault is actually taken seriously by each chapter on this campus, I would foresee the number of sexual assault reports to decline. I would advise chapter executive board members to take a zerotolerance approach to this issue and consider revoking membership and reporting perpetrators to the university. Though the statistics are frightening, I think it goes without saying that this is a blanket statement and does not mean that every person in Greek life is a bad person. The Greek community is filled with brilliant and innovative people. There are even leaders and activists who are a part of Greek life. So while I understand that Greek life represents a large sum of these statistics, let us not forget to give every single person the time of day and prove who they really are. Change will never happen if there are voices in the Greek community speaking against our cause. If misogyny is the popular opinion of a chapter, I believe the university and the chapter’s executive office need to look at the morals and fundamental standards of the group. We as a community must take a look in the mirror and stop blaming non-Greeks for being biased toward us; truth is, statistics don’t lie, and there might be a reason why Greek life can be so frowned upon. Above anything else, people need to learn to respect and honor other people’s wishes and feelings. By taking an introspective approach to battling sexual assault on campus, Greeks not only have the numbers but the passion to remove this evil from our beloved school. Gary is a sophomore majoring in communication sciences and disorders, as well as linguistics. How do you think the university’s Greek life system could best combat sexual assault? Please send all comments, questions and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
6 • Action Project Issue, March 2017
Handling sexual assault at UW-Madison Immediate and unquestioned: No contact orders offer alternatives to survivors reprimand, one or two-year probation, suspension or expulsion in more extreme cases. Three weeks before she turned 18, former Both parties receive the same message UW-Madison student Logan Johnson moved ordering all communication to stop. In cases into Sellery Residence Hall in August 2013 to like Johnson’s, that means both the reporter begin her freshman year of college. and alleged perpetrator are given the same She said within two days she was sexually instructions, a component of the directive assaulted by someone she had met at a party. Schmidt said has received pushback from And in the 15 months between that incident advocates who claim it is retaliatory against and her decision to report it, she said she was victims. However, she explained it is simply assaulted four more times: once again by the part of a concerted effort to preserve the sancfirst alleged assailant, twice more by his frater- tity of exactly what “no contact” means. nity brother and once by someone she used to “In actuality, we’re really just trying to call a friend. make sure that everybody understands Johnson left Madison briefly and returned that there can no longer be contact home to Milwaukee after the last reported between each other,” Schmidt assault in October 2014. She returned in said. “It also helps keep the January after missing class, and she moved investigation impartial.” into a dorm in the Lakeshore neighborhood In August 2015, a few upon arriving back on campus. months after both Madison “Being back in Madison has been hard police and the university for her. She has been fearful of seeing her closed Johnson’s case withold roommates and friends,” said Johnson’s out enough evidence to mother in an email to Tonya Schmidt, assistant yield consequences for the dean and director of conduct and community three men involved, one standards. “I just found out that she has not of her alleged assailants been attending any of her classes.” moved into her apartAfter filing a report with the Madison ment building. Police Department, Johnson met with Although the no conSchmidt, who also opened a university inves- tact order still functions offtigation into the incidents. campus, Schmidt admitted it While the school’s investigation unfold- is harder to monitor, especially ed, Schmidt issued no contact directives to if both parties live in the same Johnson and the three assailants she’d named, apartment complex. rendering any further communication between “There’s not a whole lot we can do,” she Johnson and the alleged perpetrators off-limits said. “We can put some extra restrictions, like by order of the university. don’t go into the gym between four and six This type of directive—which could jeopar- and the other person’s going to be told they dize a student’s stacan’t go between six tus at the university “if you tell me, ‘i’ve been and eight, things if violated—prohiblike that to try to sexually assaulted by this its contact between alleviate the contact two individuals person and would like a no that’s going to hapranging from inten- contact directive ... we will pen.” tional face-to-face Johnson felt meetings to lik- do it.” the contact was so ing each other’s Tonya Schmidt intrusive that she Facebook photos. assistant dean and director filed for a formal “You know, you conduct and community standards injunction with the get the notificacity of Madison. She tions and it says ‘so-and-so liked your post,’” said it was “very scary for me to be alone with Schmidt explained. “Some people use that to him in the building.” control their victim.” “He constantly is looking at me and has Requests for no contact orders happen fair- stopped trying to avoid me when he see’s ly often—about once every two weeks, Schmidt (sic) me,” Johnson wrote when she filed for said. Reasons can be as simple as a roommate the injunction, a document obtained by The relationship gone sour, but they more com- Daily Cardinal. monly deal with dating violence, sexual assault She received the injunction from the court, and stalking. but was unable to get the assailant removed If contact is made, Schmidt said her office from her building. will review the incident and determine whethIn other cases, Schmidt explained that the er or not the incident happened intentionally. no contact order functions as a way to preIf it did—and each incident is considered vent the need for such a formal action, espeseparately—the student could receive a formal cially given the fact that a restraining order
By Madeline Heim THE DAILY CARDINAL
or injunction hearing requires both parties to be in attendance—and those reporting assault often do not want to see their assailants. Schmidt said the no contact directive would not be a perfect fit in every scenario, but also stressed that with the university directive, there’s no need for students to rehash every detail of their experience and it likely won’t trigger any sort of investigation. She said the only exception is if one of the student’s names had come up in a previous misconduct case, usually dealing with sexual assault reports. Then, because she
and her staff are mandatory reporters, the university would be required to open an investigation. It’s a rare case, she added, that has only happened two or three times in the last few years. The entire process is usually settled with only a brief description and a request. “We need to know the gist of it, not, ‘Take me through this horrible experience that you’ve had.’ If you tell me, ‘I’ve been sexually assaulted by this person and would like a no contact directive,’ boom,” Schmidt said. “We will do it.” Nina Bertelsen and Peter Coutu contributed to this report.
possible changes to burden of proof may mean fewer campus assailants are found responsible sexual assault cases, making the reporting process more difficult for some survivors. THE DAILY CARDINAL Currently, when UW-Madison adminisAfter a night of drinking, a UW-Madison trators examine a case of sexual assault, they student was sexually assaulted in a campus weigh evidence against standard of “prepondorm room. She didn’t recall much about derance” before entering a decision. the evening, but “Preponderance she remembered “there’s usually something, of evidence means vomiting in the but it’s not a smoking gun, it’s it’s more likely dorm’s trash can. than not that the The student not a ‘gotcha.’” incident occurred,” reported the Tonya Schmidt Schmidt said. “A tip assault to the uniassistant dean and director of the scale that one versity’s Office of conduct and community standards side is more credCompliance, which ible than others … then investigated the incident. Investigators some people say 50 percent and a feather.” spoke to the alleged assailant’s roommate, According to Schmidt, there is no prewho had noticed the vomit the next morning. scribed type or amount of evidence invesThe roommate said the reported assailant tigators need in order to find the accused had told him the young woman party responsible. She said sometimes “may have spit up.” a student may provide a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, the names of friends they told after the assault or saved text messages that could make one side more credible. However, there isn’t always a factor that tips the scale. “You have to look at credibility of everyone who is giving information in the situation … There are a lot of factors,” Schmidt said. “[But] often times it does come to, ‘Ugh, who do I believe more.’” Under current campus standards of sexDavid Blom, UW-Madison’s Title IX ual assault, this was enough for admin- coordinator, handles all sexual assault istrators to corroborate the survivor’s reports made to the university. If a survivor story and find the defendant responsible, wants to proceed to an investigation after according to Tonya Schmidt, the director of the initial report, Blom will reach out to a UW-Madison’s Office of Student Conduct contractor and begin a co-investigation. and Community Standards. The contract investigator, usually a retired But now, some on campus are worried police officer, then begins to gather informathat President Donald Trump’s adminis- tion from that incident. They may collect any tration may change standards for college physical evidence from the reporter, attempt to recover security footage from residence halls, or talk to witnesses and friends. “We do typ-
ically have something, even if it’s just ‘I campuses. Under a federal mandate, colleges woke up and told my roommate I have blood risked losing federal funding if they did not in my underwear and I didn’t know what comply with the national guidelines. happened,’” Schmidt said. “There’s usually UW-Madison had already switched to something, but it’s the preponderance not a smoking gun, “A low standard of proof is standard in 2009. it’s not a ‘gotcha.’” The university was inappropriate in situations The compiled “trying to do the report is then given invovlving damage to one’s right thing before to each party so reputation ... free speech and it was even dictatthey have a chance ed,” Schmidt said. to refute any state- due process on campus are But critics of the ments before it now imperilled.” weaker standard is passed on to argue that “the Open Letter right thing” denies Schmidt’s office members of law faculty alleged assailants for decision. The Harvard, Stanford and New York Universities their right to due investigator and two members of process. For examSchmidt’s office must decide if preponder- ple, members of the law faculties at Harvard, ance is met before a nonacademic misconduct Stanford and New York Universities signed a hearing panel decides the level of punish- letter last year protesting the Obama adminment: probation, suspension or expulsion. istration’s insistence on campus use of the Sometimes there simply isn’t enough preponderance standard. The letter accused information to find a defendant respon- the Department of Education of “[curtailing] sible, and Schmidt said those are the times a number of due process protections for stupanel members lose sleep wondering if they dents accused of sexual assault.” made the right decision. They were concerned a lower standard “Those are the hard ones for us. We don’t would lead to false responsible verdicts that think people are coming forward and lying would unduly damage the alleged assailabout it, we just also know that without the ant’s standing. information we in good faith can’t go forward,” “A low standard of proof is inappropriate Schmidt said. “It doesn’t mean we don’t believe in situations involving damage to one’s reputhem, it just means tation,” the letter we don’t have the “preponderance of evidence reads. “Free speech information.” and due process on means it’s more likely In 2 0 1 6, campus are now UW-Madison ren- than not that the incident imperiled.” dered responsible occurred. A tip of the scale T r u m p ’ s verdicts in six of 15 appointment cases that proceed- that one side is more credible of Betsy DeVos ed to an investiga- than others ... some people as Secretary of tion, and since 2011, Education has the school’s overall say 50 percent and a feather.’” given opponents of rate is approxiTonya Schmidt the preponderance mately 50 percent. assistant dean and director standard hope for a However, this conduct and community standards return to old polirate may decrease cies. When asked in sharply if national standards change. her confirmation hearing if she would uphold Up until a few years ago, many college cam- Obama administration’s guidelines for deterpuses used the “clear and convincing mining responsibility, DeVos said “it would be evidence” standard to determine premature” to make that commitment. responsibility in sexual assault The Trump administration’s next steps cases. This standard requires 75 regarding campus sexual assault standards percent certainty of the accused are unclear, but Schmidt said the Obama party’s guilt, as opposed to administration’s shift away from the “clear the “50 percent and a feather” and convincing” standard has helped her required under the preponder- office “come a long way” in bringing sexual ance standard. assailants to justice. However, in 2011 the “I’ve been so happy that we finally got Department of Education began that support on a national level, for us to be a push to get universities to switch able to do what we’ve always known is right,” to the weaker preponderance stan- Schmidt said. “And it’s sometimes hard to conGRAPHICS BY THEDA BERRY/THE DAILY CARDINAL dard, as part of an effort to increase vince people when it’s not a federal mandate Data courtesy of UW-Madison and the Association of American Universities Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct. rates of sexual assault reporting on that it’s right.”
By Nina Bertelsen and Noah Habenstreit
With 4 Title IX cases under investigation, groups try to improve handling of sexual violence on campus By Cameron Lane-Flehinger THE DAILY CARDINAL
UW-Madison is being investigated for four cases of mishandling reports of sexual violence—the second-most of any Big Ten school, after the University of Indiana’s five, and more than double the average of investigations for all Big Ten institutions. Student groups and university administration, faced with the possibility of these cases never being fully investigated, are working to fight sexual violence on campus. These investigations stem from possible Title IX violations, which were redefined in April 2011 when a letter that altered the land-
scape of Title IX enforcement and put almost every major university in some form of noncompliance was issued by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Title IX, the 1972 law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs, was—for the first 39 years of its existence—largely associated with the rise of women’s sports and extracurricular programs in schools across the country. In recent years, it has shifted to also focus on how universities handle sexual assault. Within three years of the letter, the OCR had released a list of 64 institutions that were under investigation for mishandling reports of
sexual violence—this number has since grown to more than 200. UW-Madison was not on the initial list, but the OCR began investigating the university Feb. 24, 2015, for the first of four violations. Although the investigations are still open, the university has taken several steps to get in compliance with the new standards. Most significantly, David Blom was hired as the school’s first Title IX coordinator in the summer of 2015, and took over the role of handling sexual assault investigations. “UW-Madison has made a concerted effort over the past several years to break down barriers to reporting and encourage more students to come forward and seek assistance,” said UW-Madison
spokesperson Meredith McGlone. Changes were also made to the UW System, as the Board of Regents solicited student feedback on revisions to the UWS Chapter 17 policy instituted in spring 2016, which governs nonacademic misconduct, including sexual violence. Prior to the revisions, Chapter 17 did not include definitions for dating violence, domestic violence or sexual harassment, and failed to ensure equal treatment for complainants and respondents in an investigation. Although progress has been made, some students said the university’s focus is on preserving its image rather than properly combating sexual assault.
“They have an agenda, their agenda is to protect the reputation of a Big Ten school,” said Georgia Black, a UW-Madison student and sexual violence survivor advocate. “I don’t believe we’re gonna see any actual change on campus until their agenda aligns with what is right and moral, which is that sexual assault shouldn’t be happening, and it should be persecuted.” Going forward, that change will likely have to begin on campus, as the Trump administration and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have signalled their intentions to revise and potentially roll back the Obama administration’s Title IX guidance. “The Administration’s distortion of Title IX
to micromanage the way colleges and universities deal with allegations of abuse contravenes our country’s legal traditions and must be halted,” the GOP’s 2016 platform said. The Department of Education issued a new letter Feb. 22 that directly contradicts the previous administration’s guidance on protections for transgender students. This has lead some Title IX activists and individuals within the higher education community to believe the OCR will not enforce Title IX compliance as vigorously as it had under former President Barack Obama. In recent years, a network of student and community groups have begun to address the issue of sexual violence at UW-Madison. In addition
to resources like End Violence on Campus and Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment, there are also groups like loveusletters.com. Started by Black, loveusletters has become an online community where survivors of sexual violence can go to tell their stories and receive “support, community and compassion” from other survivors and allies. “I would say the campus is way more active and involved than the university,” said Erin Gray Daly, a UW-Madison student and sexual assault activist. “In the last four years I’ve seen students be more active in this and they’re really been taking charge and a lot of that’s in response to what the university’s not doing.”
Another group that could play a key role in ensuring that the university continues to comply with Title IX is the Associated Students of Madison’s Student Title IX Advisory Committee, a shared governance group that meets with Blom and other administrators to bring student feedback to university policies regarding Title IX and sexual violence investigations. While student activism around sexual violence will continue to be prominent, Gray Daly said this activism may be limited without access to institutional power structures like the OCR. “We can continue to be loud and active … but I just worry what’s gonna happen without that access to those resources,” Gray Daly said.
Action Project Issue, March 2017
Changing the playbook: Coaches must bear burden of sexual assault prevention education, advocates say Programs like Coaching Boys into Men push athletic department leaders to fight sexual violence Story by Thomas Valtin-Erwin
n December 2016, when 10 members of the Minnesota football team were indefinitely suspended in connection to an alleged gang rape following the team’s season-opener, it took less than 48 hours for the rest of the team to announce a boycott of all football activities, including the Holiday Bowl. It wasn’t until two days later, amid intense public pressure and with the release of a damning, 80-page report of the university’s investigation, that the team ultimately backed down from its boycott. The Golden Gophers would play in the Holiday Bowl, to the delight of their fans, but the damage was done. The message was sent. The players had chosen to side with their teammates at the risk of normalizing sexual violence. The Minnesota football case was a microcosm of many of the issues surrounding athletics and sexual violence. Most profoundly evident in both the disturbing reports of the incident and in the boycott itself was the potential danger of that close-knit, familial bond among teammates. Jessica Luther, author of “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape,” says that when that team mentality goes unsupervised, it can have horrifying consequences.
“For a lot of people, we don’t trust the people in charge to do the right work, we don’t trust them to do the preventative education.” Jessica Luther author Unsportsmanlike Conduct
“[It’s] an incredibly close-knit group of men, which is good for those spaces to exist,” Luther said. “At the same time, we often see particular issues that come out of them when they remain unchecked … something like 40 percent [of cases studied in her book] involve multiple perpetrators, which is a super high per-
KATIE SCHEIDT/THE DAILY CARDINAL
Athletes involved in groups like We’re Better Than That are working to create a safe campus climate. centage for gang rape.” It isn’t just a familial bond between teammates that leads athletes to sexual violence, though. A 2016 study by Jennifer McGovern and Patrick Murray found that student-athletes scored lower on a test of understanding sexual consent than the general college population. While the results were not statistically significant, the difference was there, across all demographic divisions. Luther said that the bulk of the blame for that lack of knowledge should land squarely on the shoulders of coaches and administrators in the athletic departments. According to her, the college athletics system is set up to encourage turning a blind eye to sexual violence in favor of onfield performance. “For a lot of people, we don’t trust the people in charge to do the right work, we don’t trust them to do the preventative education,” Luther said. “The system itself, the way it’s set up, doesn’t encourage that. It encourages you to exploit these players for what they can do for you on the field, which in turn is good for your job security and good for your pocket book.” In an effort to combat this lack of education, FUTURES Without Violence, a 35-year old organization dedicated to preventing violence against women and girls, crafted the Coaching Boys into Men program in 2001. CBIM pro-
vides coaches with a “playbook” on how to talk about sexual assault and empowers them to use their influence to teach their athletes about healthy relationships and effective bystander behavior.
“The fact that other athletes are hosting these wokshops ... it makes it more relatable.” Grace Wold vice president We’re Better Than That
The impact that the program had was swift and noticeable. In a 2012 study, Elizabeth Miller found a statistically significant increase among athletes that received CBIM in both knowledge of abusive behaviors and intentions to intervene. In schools where the program was implemented, Miller saw a decrease in the number of incidents of violence compared to schools that did not receive the program. “We’ve realized that coaches have such an incredible impact and influence on young men’s lives,” Yesenia Gorbea, a senior program specialist with FUTURES, said. “That’s the number one protective factor in terms of the effectiveness of the program.” Through the program’s playbook, CBIM has harnessed the
team mentality that often leads to violence and flipped the script, pushing student-athletes to teach one another and intervene when they see dangerous behavior. “Another protective factor that is really critical is the team in and of itself, being similar to a family system,” Gorbea said. “They’re more likely to intervene because they are going through this experience together. So leveraging the power of a team is also really critical.” Gorbea added that giving student-athletes the tools to educate each other is crucial to spreading awareness and mitigating sexual violence. That’s what makes groups like We’re Better Than That, a student organization at UW-Madison that seeks to bring men—including those in athletics—into the conversation about sexual violence, so important. We’re Better Than That hosts workshops and coordinates with other student-athlete organizations to give athletes a space for healthy discourse on prevention and awareness of sexual violence. Grace Wold, Vice President of We’re Better Than That and member of the UW swim and dive team, said that the athleteto-athlete discussion they provide can be remarkably effective. “The fact that other athletes are hosting these workshops and being in front and talking with them, it makes it more relatable,” Wold said. “I think it’s really powerful.”
She added that student-athletes carry a lot of social capital that they can use to educate other non-athletes on campus. “Especially on this campus, [athletes] are empowered leaders,” Wold said. “They’re people who care about their fellow Badgers and they want to make changes on campus towards that difference.” Luther echoed all the same sentiments about the influence that players can have at a school like UW. “They have a certain status on campus that other students just don’t have,” she said. “Those guys have literally the most recognizable faces on campus, more so than almost anyone, and so students listen to them, care about what they have to say.” But while she acknowledges the potential for change from within the student-athlete community, Luther firmly believes that to make a lasting improvement in the athletic social sphere, change has to come from the people at the top. “If we are paying attention and we are trying to respond, it often falls very much on them, the accountability of that single individual,” she said. “And not that that’s not important, but I think it is important to always be asking about who at the top of the chain is making bad choices.”
“We’ve realized that coaches have such an incredible impact and influence on young men’s lives.” Yesenia Gorbea senior program specialist FUTURES Without Violence
With the constant cycling of athletes in and out of the system year-to-year, it’s too dangerous to rely on individual student-athletes to create a paradigm shift in the culture of college athletics. To make an active change in the culture of sexual violence, coaches, athletic directors and other administrators have to take up the mantle. “If we’re ever gonna fix this, it’s not gonna be about one individual case,” Luther said. “If we’re going to do the preventative work, it’s going to come from the people who don’t leave every four years.”
Minnesota Football timeline of events
Sep. 10 Sep. 3
Minnesota selected to play in Holiday Bowl Dec. 27
Six football players served with restraining orders from survivor
Survivor reports to police that she was sexually assaulted
Nov. 2 Oct. 19-22
Four Minnesota football players suspended by head coach Tracy Claeys
All restraining orders dismissed after players, survivor reach settlement
Team announces boycott of all football activities, including bowl game Dec. 13
Senior Drew Wolitarsky announces team will end boycott, play in bowl game Dec. 16
Dec. 15 University indefinitely suspends 10 players in connection with incident
Jan. 3 Dec. 17
University releases 80-page report of investigation into case
Claeys fired as head coach of the Golden Gophers football team
Action Project Issue, March 2017
Wisconsin works to process thousands of untested rape kits Story by Lilly Price Amid heavy criticism over a seeming lack of urgency to process 6,000 untested rape kits throughout Wisconsin, the state’s Department of Justice has pursued a goal of collecting and processing all kits while maintaining a survivor-centered approach. In comparison to other efforts around the country, many cities but rarely entire states have taken on the challenge of processing all untested kits. In Detroit alone, there are over 11,000 untested kits. Michigan overall has 15,000 untested kits. By respecting survivors’ wishes and implementing a process with empowerment in mind, Wisconsin has emerged at the forefront of creating a solution to a system-wide challenge. Backlogs When an individual goes to a hospital facility after being sexually assaulted, a sexual assault evidence kit, also known as a rape kit, is usually created. The kit consists of samples of DNA and other pieces of evidence. Unlike most criminal cases, the evidence in sexual assault cases comes from the survivors’ bodies. After a traumatic crime like sexual assault, people would go to the hospital without knowing whether they wanted to report the assault to law enforcement. In those cases, and in cases where a survivor absolutely did not want to report, hospitals would keep those kits or send them to law enforcement agencies in case the survivor changed their minds. Oftentimes, for a variety of reasons, those kits go untested. These untested kits occupy shelf space in hospitals and law enforcement agencies that don’t want to throw the evi-
dence out. Over time, the number of untested kits heads toward the thousands, a problem in every state. To tackle this problem Wisconsin’s former attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen, created a Sexual Assault Response Team in 2011, known as AG SART. The team discovered that hospitals and police agencies used different protocols to collect these kits, causing confusion about the whereabout of some kits. The gradual increase of untested rape kits caused what is now referred to as a backlog. A 2014 survey revealed that throughout Wisconsin’s 550 law enforcement agencies and various hospitals, there was a total of 6,000 untested kits.
“For every kit that’s not tested you could have a serial rapist out there.” Gordon Hintz representative D-Oshkosh
First steps SART’s solution to the rape kit system’s flaws incorporated changes from when the survivor visits the hospital until a conviction is reached. SART created a universal form for all hospitals that helped them sort kits depending on the survivor’s wishes. Kits were redesigned with privacy in mind by matching each person with a barcode on their kit. For individuals who have a kit created but don’t decide to report until months or years later, they can call the number on their form and their kit will then be tested. The new protocol preserves the evidence in the kit for up to 10 years, allowing people to decide how they want to proceed on their own time.
Some states can only hold kits for 30 days. Wisconsin has one of the longest holding periods in the country. SART also designed a campaign to get survivors who have had a kit created but don’t know its status to come forward. Instead of directly contacting all survivors who have an untested kit, some of whom were assaulted several years prior and didn’t want to know the results of their examination, SART created a “By Your Side” campaign which formally launched last month. “We have unique protocol where we are respecting victims wishes,” said Audrey Skwierawski, assistant attorney general and violence against women resource prosecutor. “We may not test all 6,000 because we don’t to violate victim’s trust in the system.” Despite the DOJ’s new protocol, the issue of how to test all 6,000 kits remained. DOJ’s crime lab tests nearly 900 kits a year for ongoing cases. “There is no ‘backlog’ there. We are right on top of every case being sent to us,” Skwierawski said. “The issue is 6,000 were never sent to us.” Skwierawski explained the crime lab couldn’t handle the influx of kits while testing 900 recent kits at the same time. If the crime lab hired additional staff it still took two additional years to train them. In places like Detroit where all kits were tested regardless of survivors’ preferences, it has taken seven years and testing is still not finished. Grant money To be able to test all the kits and hire more staff, the DOJ applied for two grants in 2015, each offering $2 million. Wisconsin was one of a handful of states that received funding from both grants. Some cities with major backlog challenges, such as Houston and Detroit, received both grants but for a state to receive the funding was fairly unprecedented.
BEN DAVIS/THE DAILY CARDINAL
If a survivor didn’t know whether they wanted to report to authorities at the time their kit was collected, hospitals would often times keep the kit in storage. Overtime, this caused a backlog.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CREATIVE COMMONS - AMBER ARNOLD
A sexual assault kit, also known as a rape kit, is created when a survivor visits a hospital facility after being sexually assaulted. One grant from the New York County District Attorney allocated money solely for testing kits. The Bureau of Justice Assistant gave half of the funds for testing kits and the other half for putting together a committee of prosecutors and advocates. The grant also required the DOJ to take inventory of every kit in the entire state before they released their funds. Most grant recipients are cities or counties where this process can go quickly. To take inventory of a whole state, however, is more difficult. Criticism The DOJ finished Wisconsin’s kit inventory this month. The process to collect data on every kit in the state’s 550 law enforcement agencies and various hospitals started in March 2016. During this process of collecting inventory with $4 million in funding, USA Today reported only nine out of the 6,000 kits have been tested. The DOJ received severe backlashes for Attorney General Brad Schimel’s apparent lack of leadership and the copious amount of time the whole process has taken.
“We don’t want people to feel like we aren’t taking this seriously and that it’s not important to us because it’s super important.” Audrey Skwierawski assistant attonery general and violence against women resource prosecutor
“At this point in the backlog, the bottleneck is in the lab,” Skwierawski said. “We’ve sent two batches, one batch of 200 [kits] in January when the lab was ready and 200 in February. The next batch will be sent in March.” Four Democratic lawmakers sent Schimel a letter in February demanding answers from the DOJ while state Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, requested an audit of the kit backlog testing policies. Schimel, who announced that a few hundred kits had been tested when only nine had, has not responded to the letter. “First of all [lack of testing is] inexcusable and it’s hard to understand after 16 months of federal funds and $4 million there’s still 6,000 rape kits that haven’t been tested,” said state Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, one of the authors of the letter. Another author of the letter, Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said he recognizes these kits have special circumstances depending on the survivor’s wishes but said that doesn’t justify the thousands that are untested. “A different narrative behind some might make sense [to not test] but not for all 6,000,” Hintz said. “For every kit that’s not tested you could have a serial rapist out there.”
Skwierawski told The Daily Cardinal that Schimel was referring to the 200 untested kits sent to the crime lab in January and the phrase “kit testing” encompasses a multistep process. “It would make me angry if I didn’t know all the details,” Skwierawski said. “We don’t want people to feel like we aren’t taking this seriously and that it’s not important to us because it’s super important.” Future efforts With the kit process’ past problems resolved, a sexual assault kit sent to the crime lab will typically be processed in two to six weeks depending on how long it takes the lab to find a usable profile. If that profile leads to a conviction the perpetrator’s DNA will be uploaded to a statewide and national database. The database can link violent crimes from around the country or state back to the perpetrator. The need to test these kits has received bipartisan support. Everyone wants to help survivors receive the closure and justice they deserve. This session, Shankland is planning on proposing legislation that would help survivors on college campuses throughout the state receive resources and information about what a rape kit is and how to navigate the legal process. Shankland also explained the need to pass legislation to allow survivors to track where their rape kit is immediately and years down the road. In the first week of March, the DOJ applied for a 2017 grant to continue their effort to process all untested kits. Part of that grant request included money for a kit tracking program. Other legislation from the Capitol that could help survivors include making it legally mandatory to test all backlogged kits, to test all kits presently and in the future, notify survivors the status of their cases and allocate funding for testing kits. Wisconsin has work to do, as does the rest of the country. Wisconsin, however, is at the forefront of a survivor-centered approach in every procedure surrounding sexual assault, according to Skwierawski. Wisconsin is one of 15 states with a violence against women prosecutor and one of the earliest states to pioneer statewide initiatives to reach out to survivors to tackle the backlog using a flexible three-step hospital form to sort kits and a decade-long holding period. With protocols in place to ensure a backlog never happens again survivors also have more choices as to what happens after they seek help from a health care facility. “If you have the opportunity and courage to come forward and have a kit collected we are going to respect and we are going to make sure the right thing is done with that kit,” Skwierawski said.
Action Project Issue, March 2017
A tale of two stories as state, federal entities work to combat sexual assault Story by Andrew Bahl
t a time when many aspects of the UW System have encountered politicization, increasing reporting and investigation of sexual assault on college campuses has become an area of bipartisan support at the Capitol. Both Republicans and Democrats signed onto a bill last session designed to make it easier for survivors who had been drinking to go to law enforcement. Advocates are pushing for further progress: providing more resources for survivors of sexual assault on campus and demanding the state Department of Justice do more to clear its backlog of rape kits. But at the same time, federal protections for sexual assault survivors are becoming more uncertain, with major pieces of former President Barack Obama’s legacy on the issue in danger of being rolled back under a Republican executive branch. While some cheer this as a potential win for civil liberties, others argue it will irreparably harm the experience of survivors nationwide.
Progress in state legislature One example is a bipartisan law approved last session which would exempt survivors or witnesses of sexual assault from punishment if they had been drinking underage. Authored by state Rep. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan, and state Sen. Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, the measure was backed by UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, the UW-Madison Police Department and state Attorney General Brad Schimel.
CAITLIN ROWE/CARDINAL FILE PHOTO
One of the themes of the Madison’s Women March in January was combating sexual assault. that this would be the same law whether they were in their dorm or off campus.” Cassidy Schroeder, chair of Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment at UW-Madison, said members of PAVE lobbied and worked with legislators on the bill. “It was cool to see our [staff members] lobbying and hanging out with these legislators who really cared,” Schroeder said. “And I was happy the bill had such bipartisan support, with everyone saying ‘Yes, this is a good rule.’”
VICTIMS AREN’T ALWAYS READY TO GO TO LAW ENFORCEMENT.
While Ballweg said that she hasn’t seen data yet on whether the law has increased reporting of sexual assault on campuses, UW-Madison announced last week that 325 sexual assaults were reported last year, a 50 percent increase from 2015. Other states with similar measures have seen an increase in reporting, Ballweg said. “Folks understand they do have amnesty,” Ballweg said. “I would think it’ll have a positive impact.” Before the law, many police departments, including UWPD, had guidelines stating they would not give drinking tickets to survivors or bystanders. But not every agency had such a policy in place, and because it was not codified into law, it was inconsistently enforced. “We see increases in numbers in other states that have done this, but the guideline wasn’t necessarily well known,” Ballweg said. “Students needed to know
— Joan Ballweg, State Rep., R-Markesan
Empowered by this success, students are lobbying legislators for further action. Last month, UW System Student Representatives lobbied legislators on codifying a requirement that each campus have a violence prevention specialist, a trained advocate for survivors of sexual assault who would be required to report any crime to law enforcement. Some legislators, including state Rep. Jill Billings, D-La Crosse, have expressed support for the idea. “It should be addressed and if someone is in that situation, there should be someone there to help them and walk them through what’s next; being respectful to the person who has suffered from assault and being an advocate,” Billings told The Daily Cardinal last month. Other lawmakers, including Ballweg, have said that they support providing advocates for survivors but that they would rather that aid come via non-profit groups.
“Local non-profit sexual assault groups do offer services and we hope these partnerships can be made stronger so students can know how to seek help,” Ballweg said. “Victims aren’t always ready to go to law enforcement. So they need to know where they can go to get help for themselves.”
Uncertainty at federal level But while state legislators seek out ways to improve reporting at Wisconsin campuses, the U.S. Department of Education has indicated it may be considering rolling back one of the principal protections for sexual assault survivors. Under the Obama Administration, Title IX was used as a powerful tool to ensure colleges took steps to improve the reporting and investigation of sexual assault on their campuses. Passed in 1972, Title IX states that no education program receiving federal aid can discriminate or exclude participants on the basis of gender. Until recently, that provision had not been associated with sexual assault and was perhaps most famous for increasing the visibility of women’s athletics at colleges nationwide. But in 2011, the U.S. Department of Education dropped the hammer on higher education. In the now infamous “Dear Colleague Letter,” the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights said sexual harassment and assault “interferes with students’ right to receive an education free from discrimination” and that schools must “take immediate and effective steps to end sexual harassment and sexual violence.” This interpretation of Title IX was cheered by advocates and dozens of universities, including UW-Madison, found themselves under investigation by the Department of Education for potential violations. “At a federal level it dictates a
lot of the work college campuses do because there are repercussions,” Schroeder said, noting the Department of Education can fine campuses for violations and will work with schools to ensure protocols surrounding prevention, reporting and enforcement are strengthened. “Part of what they do, what I think is the positive, important spin on it … is to say ‘this is why your system isn’t working, here’s what you can do to fix it.’” But this could be set to change under the Trump administration. New Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has not confirmed whether or not she will change the 2011 guidance, saying at her confirmation hearing in January that it was “premature” to make such a statement. “If confirmed, I look forward to understanding the past actions and current situation better, and to ensuring that the intent of the law is actually carried out in a way that recognizes both the victim ... as well as those who are accused,” DeVos said at the hearing.
try,” Liberty University spokesperson Lee Stevens said after Falwell’s appointment. “Title IX is one of the areas he mentioned where there is over-regulation.” Such moves have been cheered by civil liberties groups, who allege that guidelines set forth in the “Dear Colleague Letter” have gone too far and infringe on the due process rights of accused perpetrators. Multiple lawsuits challenging the policies have sprung up, including a 2016 suit from a University of Virginia law student who was expelled after having sex with an intoxicated student in 2013. “Following the law isn’t optional, and discontent with the 2011 ‘Dear Colleague’ letter is widespread and well-documented,” Foundation for Individual Rights in Education Executive Director Robert Shibley said. “Hardly a week goes by without new headlines pointing to the failure of the status quo on campus. OCR has acted as though decreasing due process rights will increase justice. In fact, the opposite is true. Real people’s lives are being irreparably harmed.” But advocates for survivors say that any legal or executive changes to Title IX would be a blow. “I like to think that even if Title IX was repealed, colleges truly have their students’– well-being at heart and I think the reason folks go into higher education is to help people,” Schroeder said. “I do worry about what that means if there is no higher power to hold people accountable,” she added, noting that “if you don’t have that enforcer or person who is neutral … I worry that won’t happen [if you roll back Title IX].” State lawmakers have said that they believe campuses should continue to track and report sexual assaults, even if federal sanctions are eliminated. “Whether the federal government is or not, the campus population as a whole is interested in maintaining data and they want to be sure they’re making progress in these areas,” Ballweg said, adding that she was “not familiar” of any instances in which accused perpetrators were not given due process rights. Schroeder said that she was hopeful the university would continue to maintain its higher standards and expressed confidence activists would hold administrators accountable.
i HOPE THAT OUR
UNIVERSITIES WOULD STILL PROTECT STUDENTS.
— Cassidy Schroeder, chair of Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment at UW-Madison
And evangelical leader and Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. has indicated that he will use his position as chair of Trump’s higher education taskforce to roll back Title IX. “[Fallwell] has an interest in eliminating what he feels are overreaches by the federal government, particularly the Department of Education, as pertains to colleges and universities across the coun-
“I hope universities would make those choices and I hope activists on campus would push for those things and say that our campus isn’t safe to our students without x, y and z in place,” Schroeder said. “I hope that our universities would still protect students. Activism on this campus is incredible and it comes from so many places, and I would hope [the university] wouldn’t repeal the good things they started.”
dailycardinal.com Action Project Issue, March 2017 • 11
GAGE MEYER/CARDNIAL FILE PHOTO
A study, conducted by Jason Lindo of Texas A&M University, found that rates of reported sexual assault on campus increase by 41 percent on football game days.
Assault rates spike on football game days at many Division I schools. Is the same true for UW-Madison? By Noah Habenstreit THE DAILY CARDINAL
It’s no secret that with high alcohol consumption comes increased rates of sexual assault. But one study shows that sexual assault is especially prevalent on the days of home football games at Division I universities with passionate fanbases. In other words, schools like UW-Madison. The study, conducted by Jason Lindo of Texas A&M University and published by the Bureau of Economic Research in 2015, found 41 percent more sexual assaults are reported on game days at Division I universities than on average Saturdays. It raised ques-
tions about the impact of big-time sports on campus safety, leaving people wondering whether college football does more harm than good at American universities. The UW-Madison Police Department does not keep data regarding the number of sexual assaults reported on game days specifically. However, national data has raised some concern in the UW-Madison community that Badger games could breed high levels of sexual assault and rape. Skeptics of Lindo’s study point out that football games are generally on Saturdays, when a large number of students would be drinking anyway. However, the study claims “the control variables included in our
baseline model account for potential bias driven by inherent differences across agency jurisdictions as well as spikes in sexual assault related to the day of the week, specific holidays, and the calendar year.” The study also found “upset wins increase reports of rape by 38 percent more than games in which the team lost according to expectations,” further suggesting the actual influence of football on levels of sexual assault. What is unclear, though, is the significance of this finding. Marc Lovicott, UWPD’s director of communications, said the department hasn’t noticed that reports of sexual assault spike on game days, but he would not be surprised if that is the case—because
it all boils down to alcohol use. “I don’t know if we’ve actually tracked the correlation between football game days and sexual assault, so it’s hard for us to tell,” Lovicott said. “But looking at a report that came out about a year ago regarding sexual assault even on this campus, a majority of the sexual assaults that we deal with and that are reported on campus, have to do in one way or another with alcohol.” Lovicott said that the department is “very busy” on game days, and that it gives out more citations than an average day of the weekend, but that the department “certainly hasn’t noticed [a] trend in particular” between football Saturdays and increased levels of sexual assault.
Lovicott also stressed that while alcohol use is often a catalyst for sexual violence, the most important factor is assailants’ lack of understanding when it comes to issues of consent. “The number one factor is consent. People need to learn the definition of consent,” Lovicott said. “But aside from that, alcohol does seem to be a big factor.” Whether there is something about football Saturdays that increases the prevalence of sexual assault, or whether these increases are simply a coincidence based on other circumstances, alcohol use—a staple of Badgers games— is highly correlated with sexual violence on campus.
Campus carry detrimental to sexual assault prevention, experts and UW leaders claim By Andy Goldstien THE DAILY CARDINAL
While UW System firearm restrictions may find themselves on the legislative chopping block this year, students and activists have raised concerns about the potential impact of such reform on sexual assault on campus.
“I think campus carry would have a really ... bad effect on the already very bleak numbers we see on sexual assault on campus.” Kat Kerwin cocks not glocks UW-Madison
Among the bills that state Republicans hope to pass this year is campus carry legislation, which seeks to undo campus buildings’ status as gun-free zones and allow permit-holders to carry firearms anywhere on UW grounds. Its supporters argue that campus crime, including sexual assault, will decrease if more people are armed, but opponents say otherwise. Advocates of campus carry note that by allowing firearms in campus buildings, students and teachers would be able to ensure their own safety and that of others, reducing the rate of violent crimes at universities. However, student groups at UW-Madison and activist groups around the country have voiced their concerns about the legislation for a variety of reasons, including its potential to actually increase levels of sexual assault on campus. The Campaign to Keep Guns Off
Campus, an organization that works against the proliferation of firearms at universities, released a report on the subject comparing the rates of several violent crimes on campuses with and without campus carry. The study, carried out by researchers at the organization, found an increase in crime rates at the universities with campus carry, even while the student population was in decline, and notably high rates of forcible rape compared to schools without such legislation in effect. “While the results certainly do not prove that campus carry causes more crime; it undoubtedly disproves the claim that the possible presence of individuals carrying concealed weapons equals less crime,” the study reads. The study examined campuses in Utah and Colorado, states with campus carry laws in effect, and determined that rape “remains a problem on college campuses,” one that “concealed handguns cannot fix.” “The goals of our state legislators should not be arming more individuals, but educating students at a younger age about the dangers of drugs and alcohol related to sexual assault and the need to teach individuals to respect each other,” the report concludes. Students at UW-Madison have organized against the passage of the legislation, including circulating petitions, engaging passersby in discussion and taking part in the Cocks Not Glocks campaign, a viral protest method that originated at the University of Texas at Austin, in which students publicly carry sex toys to protest campus carry efforts. “I think campus carry would have
a really, really, really bad effect on the already very bleak numbers we see on sexual assault on campus,” said Kat Kerwin, head of the Cocks Not Glocks campaign at UW-Madison. A late 2015 survey found that almost one in four female undergraduates at UW-Madison had been sexually assaulted while attending college. “It would just allow violent people a very easy and very legal way to have a weapon and defense if they are going to sexually assault others,” Kerwin said. Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, originally introduced the legislation in 2015, but the Assembly did not vote on the bill before the end of the session. UW System leaders and police have also come out against campus carry legislation.
“We need people who are passionate about these issues ... to come out and support these [solutions].” Jesse Kremer state representative R-Kewaskum
Police chiefs representing every UW campus signed a letter to Kremer in 2015, urging him to reconsider the legislation. “Guns do not belong in our classrooms, student centers, laboratories, workout facilities, locker rooms, offices, residence halls or athletic venues,” the letter reads. Kremer has voiced continued support for the legislation and encouraged others to
ALICIA SCHOBERG/THE DAILY CARDINAL
Some UW community members are concerned that potential legislation, which would allow permit holders to carry firearms all over campus grounds, would increase violent crime levels. advocate for the cause as well, stating in a press conference, “We need people who are passionate about these issues who think they are a real problem to come out and support these [solutions]. That’s a problem we had last session.” Last November, state Republicans won 11 new Assembly seats, granting them a 64-35 majority, their largest in decades, and leaving little institutional opposition to the party’s legislative agenda. However, some Republican leaders have acknowledged skepticism about the effectiveness of cam-
pus carry, and have deemed it necessary to build support and structure their legislative priorities before voting on the issue. “We actually need to work harder on some of these controversial topics to build public support to make sure, if we are doing it, we’re reflecting what Wisconsinites actually want,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in a January press conference. Kremer has said he will likely reintroduce his bill during this year’s session.
Action Project Issue, March 2017
Faced with disproportionate rates of sexual violence, efforts focus on Greek community, first-year students Story by Sammy Gibbons
ollowing a 2015 survey that revealed high rates of sexual assault at UW-Madison— particularly in residence halls and Greek houses—campus groups have been working to build prevention programs aimed at reducing these numbers. This programming aims to reach a significant portion of the campus population, as 90 percent of freshman choose to live in university housing and approximately 13 percent of undergraduates are members of the Greek community. University Health Services, UW Housing and Greek councils are working to combat sexual assault before it occurs through education and legislation. First-year students receive double dose of preventative measures In the fall of 2016, UHS held the first educational sessions they created for first-year students. The workshops were made in response to results from a national survey, which said the current program that teaches incoming students about sexual and dating violence—a 90-minute online course called Tonight—is useful, but not enough to end violence. Sam Johnson, a violence prevention specialist with UHS’ End Violence on Campus unit, said it was recommended they expand educational programming by utilizing a “multi-dose strategy.” “There are some diseases or illnesses that are so wide in scope you need your first vaccination to inoculate you, but, in some instances, you’re going to need a booster shot,” Johnson said. “This is the same idea that we draw from public health models, that sufficient dosage is important. You can’t just expect to solve a problem in a one-anddone program.” The Association of American Universities Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct suggest additional programming requires all first-year and transfer students under the age of roughly 25 to participate in in-person, peer-facil-
CARLIE LAMKE/THE DAILY CARDINAL
KATIE SCHEIDT/THE DAILY CARDINAL
The Greek community, many of whom reside on Langdon Street, as well as incoming students will receive education through University Health Services and new bylaws to combat sexual violence. itated workshops within their first semester at UW-Madison. Students can choose from four programs in the GetWIse series: DatingWIse, SexWIse, ListenWIse and YouWIse. Participants have the option
“You can’t just expect to solve a poblem in a oneand-done program.” Sam Johnson violence prevention specialist End Violence on Campus
to complete the requirement in a large scale setting at Student Orientation, Advising and Registration. However, Johnson said most will attend sessions in groups of 15-20 students, many of which are held in residence halls. “The data on campus suggest that between 90 to 95 percent of first year students live in housing, so to us [hosting sessions in residence halls] made the most sense to [be] the most accessible to the largest number of students,” Johnson said. Assistant Director of Residence Life Amanda Thwing said the WIse workshops have given students a space to talk about and question personal topics. “Overall, I would say that the workshops that we host have been great at getting people to talk about a topic that is often uncomfortable,” Thwing said. “After both the Tonight online program and the in-person program, I believe, students are better prepared with information and resources around sexual assault, dating and domestic violence and stalking.” UHS offers another sexual assault prevention program for athletes and members of the Greek community called Green Dot. It is used by other schools and purchased by UHS, not created by them like WIse was. Johnson said Green Dot also differs from the WIse workshops in that it skips over definitions and is more skills-based. “We select Green Dot for
Greek students and athletes because they are a built-in community with each other,” Johnson said. “We know those who have a shared sense of community and belonging and shared values, they may be in a stage that they’re more ready to learn those skills together.” Green Dot, like the WIse workshops, are conducted inperson and are based on audience participation. All new members of Greek life are required to complete it within their first year in a chapter. These are not always facilitated by a UHS staff member—anyone that becomes Green Dot certified after participating in a four-day training can lead sessions. Greek councils are encouraging senior members of the community to receive Green Dot certification in order to be peer mentors for new members, according to Dan Goldfield, the former chief justice of the interfraternity council and an original member of the Greek Life Task Force. Greek life works to prevent sexual violence through new community standards About a year and a half ago, the Greek Life Task Force was formed after Chancellor Rebecca Blank challenged members of the Greek community to respond to the AAU survey. Members of the Greek executive board formed the risk management team, which branched into different groups, one of which focuses specifically on sexual and gender-based violence. Goldfield and other members of this group at this time began drafting bylaws to solidify the Greek community’s stance on these issues, and provide a “howto guide” for how to handle situations, according to Goldfield. “[The bylaws] address this issue on our campus, in our community. We are really trying to be proactive and give chapters resources and everything they need,” Goldfield said. “We have proactive measures, reactive measures, educational mechanisms, accountability mechanisms. It looks to address the
problem from a very wide scope.” There are four sections of the bylaws, according President of the Interfraternity Council Michael Foy. The first two define sexual assault and provide legal terms for what is considered an offense. Foy said it also goes beyond legal definitions and explains “conduct that is unbecoming” of Greek members, meaning chapters can still be punished for behaviors that may not be considered illegal. The third portion discusses reporting
“After both the Tonight online program and the inperson program ... students are better prepared with information and resources around sexual assault, dating and domestic violence and stalking.” Amanda Thwing assistant director of Residence Life UW-Madison
and offers tools for doing so. The final section lists requirements for Greek members, including the Green Dot workshops. The bylaws will also require a safety and wellness chair within each chapter. This member will serve as a source of support for their Greek brothers or sisters; they will “break down the barriers of reporting,” according to President of the Panhellenic Association Madeleine Haberman. Additionally, the bylaws serve as a guide for Greek chapters under investigation for those reasons mentioned. It instructs them how to be “forthcoming” and work with investigators. Haberman said the bylaws make it clear what the Greek community deems as unacceptable, not only regarding sexual and gender-based violence, but discussing discrimination and sexual harassment as well. The legislation specifies what behaviors are acceptable, including what language can be used in songs, and also mentions dating
violence. This would allow the Greek governing board to issue punishments for occurrences not protected by the Student Organization Code of Conduct. UW-Madison’s chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity was reported earlier this year for reciting an explicit chant. Approximately 50 members of the chapter were heard chanting about a woman, saying “throw her against the wall,” followed by “line up 100 girls on the wall” and proceed to have sex with them. The committee that heard the case said it “encouraged sexual assault,” according to UW-Madison spokesperson Meredith McGlone. Sigma Chi was suspended earlier this year, but there was no mention of the chant in the university’s announcement. Goldfield said in instances such as this, they have gone one step further than university administration has with the bylaw changes. “We look at instances about free speech concerns which the university has some limitations on what they can do,” Goldfield said. “The bylaws specifically mention things like social songs and says these are not welcome in our community. We acknowledge that the university can’t step in all the time, but we’re still going to.” The bylaws have been passed through the legal department at UW-Madison and the Division of Student Life, and have now been given to each of the four Greek governing councils. They have been passed by the Panhellenic Association and IFC, but the Multicultural Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council are still in the process of deciding. Foy said the bylaws are the first step to ending sexual violence. He said he would love it if, after following through with the regulations, Greek houses—specifically fraternity houses—would be the safest places on campus. “This could be a situation where [sexual violence] goes to zero in our community, and we aren’t going to stop until it gets to that point,” Foy said. “Having these discussions, these measures in place … there’s no gray. There’s what we deem as acceptable, and what we deem as unacceptable. We’ll hold ourselves to a higher standard.”
BETSEY OSTERBERGER/CARDINAL FILE PHOTO