Letter: Shared governance and sexual violence on campus

by Staff

Tanisha Duke-Scorza, Queena Tran & Corey Polant

Student Subcommittee Sexual Violence Task Force Members

We are Tanisha, Queena and Corey and we are a few of the representatives on the student subcommittee of the Sexual Violence Task Force for San Diego State. We are committed students who have been working effortlessly alongside university administration to bring awareness to sexual violence resources here on campus. A lot has happened this past year but as it comes to a close, we would like to end with a reflection of the successes our university has experienced by bringing to light sexual violence prevention efforts and where we see the future of these conversations going.

Our representation on the Sexual Violence Task Force has allowed us to work alongside key administrators who work daily on this issue, like Jessica Rentto, Title IX coordinator, and Lee Mintz, Title IX deputy. We were able to express our concerns of a federal audit, which highlighted areas of improvement that SDSU must undergo to better represent Title IX requirements. The report found that though SDSU was in compliance with most Title IX requirements, it was lacking sufficient sexual violence educational programming. It was here that initiatives like Let’s Talk and Take Back the Week arose.

Take Back the Week was a collaboration of multiple student run organizations and administrative departments including the Womyns Outreach Association, Women’s Resource Center, Women’s Studies Department, Aztecs For Awareness, the Sexual Violence Task Force, Office of the Title IX Coordinator, Student Affairs, Business and Financial Affairs, Athletics, Counseling and Psychological Services, Center for Community Solutions and Associated Students. This is the first time that this campus has come together to share with the community the resources and services provided for survivors, educational programming, films and panels to discuss this issue and a more engaged campus community regarding preventing sexual violence at SDSU.

As students who led this initiative, we recognize that Take Back the Week is not the solution to ending sexual violence, but rather a step forward towards a more educated and empowered student body ready to work towards ending sexual violence. With this newly established relationship between students and administration on this issue, we must recognize the importance of coming together as one community rather than furthering a polarizing culture between us two. The organizations and departments mentioned previously show the level of commitment we each have towards addressing this issue and making sure our initiatives are not only impactful but also sustainable for years to come.

As with any first program, we now see what needs improvements for next year but are confident that we created a strong foundation for the Sexual Violence Task Force to build off of by creating more opportunities for student engagement. Though Take Back the Week was an incredible start to these campus conversations it is not enough and both we, as students, and the administration understand this. Conversations between administration and us have already been held to brainstorm ideas for next year, utilizing the summer to plan ahead. For instance, to bring awareness to domestic violence, October will have specific programming designated towards this issue and Take Back the Week will also expand to a two semester, every year initiative.

We, as the student subcommittee of the task force are here to represent you, the student, and want you to know that we have the university’s attention and will continue to work towards increasing not only programming on campus, but outreaching to more students who may want to report or need a guiding hand. Although, we understand that this issue won’t be resolved in a day, in a month or even a year, our goal is to create sustainable programming on campus for years to come including any feedback students may have.

We acknowledge that Take Back the Week did not reach the majority of the campus and there may have also been conflicting perceptions of what programming was supposed to represent. But, being a student-run initiative alongside the support of administration, this is a perfect example of how shared governance can further the university’s mission of supporting its students as one community. As we begin to enjoy our summer off, we encourage students to stay engaged, join the task force and have your voices and concerns be heard. It is up to us, as one SDSU community, to work together to end a culture that protects perpetrators and to create one that supports survivors. Join us, students and administration, as we move forward together of addressing sexual violence and the impact it has on every single one of us. Email us to get involved: svtfstudents@gmail.com.