StuCo Report: Sexual Assault, Committee Reform, and More

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Sexual Assault Prevention

Mia Ferguson ’15, one of the students who has filed complaints with the federal government alleging that Swarthmore violated the Clery Act and Title IX, was present at the StuCo meeting on Monday, the last of the semester. She discussed StuCo’s role in Sexual Assault Prevention and Survivor Advocacy (SAPSA), a group recently organized by Ferguson and Hope Brinn ’15.

According to Ferguson, the administration has not dealt appropriately with sexual assault, and it will be the role of SAPSA to train students to escort those going through the CJC process. SAPSA is different from the SMART Team in that the latter does not address all of the legal issues that SAPSA will, she said.

SAPSA will be updating the ASAP program to add “Know Your IX” education as well as education about rights for both victims and perpetrators. “Know Your IX” is a campaign to educate students about Title IX rights. SAPSA will be putting FAQ posters around campus.

Ferguson also mentioned that under the Clery Act, the College is supposed to publish the list of events that violate the act, inform the student body that the event occurred as well as the punishment for the perpetrator. She hopes to provide medical aid, psychological aid, and legal aid to students through SAPSA rather than through the College.

Social Outreach Coordinator Aya Ibrahim ’15 and Student Groups Advisor Lanie Schlessinger ’15 suggested that the Student Resource Guide (SRG), which will contain explanations about many of the procedures, organizations, and customs at Swarthmore, should contain information about sexual assault. Schlessinger also suggested sending students a single page summarizing developments surrounding the Cleary Act and Title IX.

Committee Reform

Appointments Chair Yuan Qu ’14 said that current committees are only comprised of certain sections of the campus community. In addition, she said, many people do not know which committees are doing what, and that some people are intimidated by the power differential between student and faculty representatives.

Ibrahim suggested standardizing committee feedback mechanisms. Co-President Gabby Capone ’14 said StuCo could hold study breaks to encourage students to apply for positions, which have often seen low applicant rates in the past. Capone and Co-President Victor Brady ’13 expressed a desire for more accountability and suggested requiring committees update StuCo on their discussions and actions.

PAs and the Urination Incident

Brady said that they met last Wednesday with Dean of Students Liz Braun and had a what Brady called “very good talk about community.”

In light of the urination incident on the Intercultural Center (IC) door Thursday night, Brady explained what they had heard about PA coordination for that night. Brady said Braun was told Wednesday that a PA would be stationed in the IC courtyard for the entire length of Thursday’s Pub Nite. As it happened, no PA was stationed there, though the PAs scheduled, as usual, to work Pub Nite were present and periodically checked around the IC area.

In April, Capone and Brady had suggested to Braun that a PA be stationed in the courtyard.

Ongoing Elections & Referendum 

StuCo’s election results were announced Tuesday, with Schlessinger elected as Co-President and Marian Firke ‘14 elected as Educational Policy Representative beginning in the fall. The three remaining open positions, Financial Policy Representative, Campus Life Representative, and Student Groups Representative, had no candidates, and those positions will be filled by special elections in the fall.

On Monday, with ballots still out, Campus Life Representative Tony Lee’15 suggested repositioning the timing of these elections, as they are not at the top of everyone’s list right now as it is a hectic time. Ben Goloff ‘15 agreed, adding that the IC incident, since it heightened concern for the campus community, might encourage more candidates to run.

Brady said that the StuCo Constitution requires a two-week period between the announcement of elections and the start of voting, so replacement elections could not be held. Capone said any students motivated by IC incident could run in the fall.

The ballot also contained a referendum asking students to vote for the balcony on the third floor of McCabe Library to be opened. The referendum, created by Max Nesterak ’13, failed due to lack of student participation. 421 students voted for the referendum, 21 against, and 41 students voted no preference. A referendum needs a majority with at least 1/3 of the campus voting, and only 29.8 percent of the student body voted. In a campus-wide email announcing the election results, Brady wrote StuCo would work on this issue as a “side-project” next year.

Max Nesterak ’13, the author of the referendum, is a Co-Editor in Chief of The Daily Gazette

Correction: Aya Ibrahim suggested standardizing committee feedback mechanisms, not committee structure, as originally reported.

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