Reiterating the importance of addressing sexual assault

Ella Fritzemeier and Sean O'Melia

Editor’s note: This is a column written by student senate president Ella Fritzemeier and executive vice president Sean O’Melia after the sexual assault town hall meeting Tuesday, April 4. For questions or comments to this column, please reach out to them at (616) 331-2333 or [email protected]

Dear Grand Valley State University Community,

Thank you again to those who attended our town hall regarding sexual assault Tuesday, April 4. We appreciated the vibrant conversation that was had, and hope that we as a community will continue to fight against sexual assault, because it is plaguing our campus and communities around the country.

As the leadership on student senate, we understand that we represent our student body, and we care so deeply about the safety and well-being of all of our students. That is why we would like to reiterate the work that we have been doing as student senate. We have been advocating for continued bystander intervention training, supporting Eyes Wide Open and the Women’s Center in their programming efforts through the It’s On Us Campaign, encourage attendance at Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and more initiatives such as the creation of a victim/survivor support group.

We, as the leadership of student senate, outrightly disagree with the comments that were made this week by a newly elected senator, who resigned Tuesday, April 4. This individual was not elected by previous student senate members, but by the student body. This individual never attended any student senate meetings, and in fact has not been officially sworn in. This is why we want to make it very clear that we strongly and adamantly disagree with the opinion expressed and that the manner in which they chose to express it.

We believe that rape culture is a REAL and SERIOUS issue and a threat to our society today, and we are actively working to eradicate sexual assault through the principles of prevention, education, and awareness.

We appreciate the work that Eyes Wide Open, the Women’s Center and all of the Division of Inclusion & Equity have been working to improve the holistic experience of all students from different cultures, backgrounds and validate everyone’s experiences. Student senate hopes to continue to take on these major challenges and hopefully address them in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

President Ella Fritzemeier

Executive Vice President Sean O’Melia