By Paola Garcia, For The Miami Student
Anna Lucia Feldman walked up to the podium at Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting and told the crowd about a petition that identified ways to improve advocacy for sexual assault through increased funding.
More than 100 Miami students had already signed the petition, and Feldman, who is the social activism chair of Feminists Working on Real Democracy (F-Word), was at the board meeting to advocate for additional funding.
The funding would include the hiring of a sexual assault prevention coordinator to assist in, as the name implies, sexual assault awareness and prevention. The Board of Trustees had overall positive feedback to Feldman’s requests, but the trustees did not discuss the petition any further.
The petition began with a list of demands written by students during the fall 2015 semester. This list includes eliminating victim-blaming, increasing consent education and implementing real solutions to sexual assault in Oxford.
Rebecca Getson, Miami University’s Title IX Coordinator, helps students with matters related to sexual violence, including access to medical and mental health treatment, reporting offenses to the police and giving victims/survivors access to support resources. Due to the nature of her position, Getson must remain neutral between victim and offender.
Feldman says that having a sexual assault prevention coordinator would help by providing an advocate for survivors.
In the last few years, there has been an increase of sexual assaults reported on campus. Claire Wagner, director of news and communication at Miami University, said many cases of sexual assault go unreported.
“We still think it is often underreported,” she said. “I’m glad we are learning about [sexual assaults] because we don’t think it is a new thing that they are happening.”
As part of the demands of the petition, Shevonne Nelson, coordinator of GLBTQ services and assistant director in the Office of Diversity Affairs, said she would like to see changes in the university’s online sexual assault risk-reduction workshop to make it more hands-on.
Nelson said GLBTQ sexual assaults are rarely mentioned, but they still occur with regularity. One in five transgender people are sexually assaulted, and one in 12 of those victims are killed as part of the sexual assault, Nelson said.
“Miami does talk about female-to-male and male-to-male sexual assaults on campus, which is wonderful,” Nelson said. “We need to take the next step and own the fact that this does not only happen to binary gendered identities.”
Feldman said she spoke to the Board of Trustees because this issue is important to victims and survivors of sexual assault on campus.
“It’s important because there are many people on campus that want to revolutionize the way that we support sexual assault survivors,” Feldman said. “We want to make this campus a safer place, and transforming these demands into reality is really personal for victims/survivors.”
Feldman’s petition for more funding to improve sexual assault advocacy was heard and commented by Chair of the Board of Trustees David H. Budig. He responded to Feldman’s petition by saying it was “very high on our list of priorities.”