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IU students push for sexual assault prevention training on campus

Posted at 5:09 PM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 18:17:14-04

BLOOMINGTON — Students at Indiana University want to educate people about what consent looks like, they say, to end the “party culture” in Greek organizations.

“It’s affected me, it’s affected my sisters and my friends in other chapters,” Madison Smith, Indiana University Student Government Student Life Committee chair, said.

“I think that the biggest issue is going to be getting over this culture of ‘Get her drunk,’” Smith said about addressing sexual assault.

What is it and what does it look like?

“Something that we found in hearing many people's stories is that a clear understanding of consent and boundaries would pretty much stop a lot of the assaults that happen in the Greek community,” Smith said.

The Indiana University Student Government Congress wants to better outline that for students, unanimously passing legislation last week, encouraging increased sexual assault training among Greek organizations.

“There is very much a culture of binge drinking and partying that really lends itself to putting people in vulnerable situations,” Smith said. “And then once you’re in that vulnerable situation, the culture tells you that she was drunk so it’s ok or you were both drunk so it’s ok.”

Smith wrote the proclamation, calling upon the Interfraternity, Panhellenic, Multicultural and National Pan-Hellenic councils to include consent-based training in their programming to change the narrative on what it means to assault someone.

“It’s really unfortunate because in a lot of these situations where people are being traumatized and being assaulted, the person doing it doesn’t understand that what you’re doing is wrong,” she said. “The person doing it very much thinks that it’s just how it goes and that it’s ok.”

A previous chair of Title IX at Indiana University, Kaitlin Scott, said the university does a good job of having stronger policies to protect students beyond federal requirements, but there is a gap in making sure policies are being followed and used.

“Especially if these groups are in a culture like Madison was describing that doesn’t look favorably upon reporting systems and going through that process,” Scott, now the IU student government press secretary, said. “Then that’s just hard and something we need to work on as students I think.”

Smith says only 12% of initial sexual assault reports to the university actually end up going through the entire reporting process. She believes if we educate more young people what clear consent requires and looks like, “I think that will prevent sexual assaults and I hope that it stops it from happening,” she said. “Honestly it’s really cliché, but if it stops it from happening to one other person, but it’s worth it.”

Right now, the Student Government Congress is working with the different groups to incorporate the training and finalize what the training will include. Their hope is to implement it next school year.

An IU spokesperson said, “We certainly support the efforts by our students and the student government to reduce sexual violence, but we weren’t involved in the proclamation.”

The process for reporting a sexual assault is laid out on this page.

Through the website, IU offers resources and information to help in fighting this problem. They also do regular climate surveys to understand how students feel about their safety, their understanding of problems on campuses, and other issues that may emerge. They provide resources on all of their campuses to ensure awareness and access to those in their Office for Sexual Violence Prevention and Victim Advocacy who can help.