Student Senate passes Title IX, fall break resolutions

GVL / Archive

Student Senate Jack Iott the cabinet listen to a guest speaker during a previous meeting.

GVL / Archive Student Senate Jack Iott the cabinet listen to a guest speaker during a previous meeting.

Sarah Hillenbrand

The Grand Valley State University Student Senate passed a Title IX resolution along with a fall break resolution at its Thursday meeting.

The guest speaker at the meeting was Dwight Hamilton, assistant vice president for affirmative action in the Office of Inclusion and Equity and GVSU’s Title IX coordinator. Student Senate recently drafted a resolution to recognize the benefits of Title IX “in regard to athletes, STEM fields, and pregnant and parenting students … as it celebrates its 40th anniversary as part of the Education Amendments” the resolution stated.

Hamilton thanked Student Senate for writing the resolution, and for including more than just athletics in what Title IX covers.

“Title IX also prohibits sexual harassment and sexual assault, which is the biggest thing I’ve dealt with since I’ve been here,” Hamilton said.

According to the campus climate survey, 154 people said they experienced sexual assault while at GVSU.

“We’re about where you would expect us to be for an institution of our size,” Hamilton said.

Even if you aren’t out walking alone when it’s dark out, the stereotypical scenario, it doesn’t mean that you are safe everywhere else, Hamilton said, adding that there are a lot of other common places when people can be sexually harassed or assaulted that people don’t think about.

“We’re creating a false sense of security that if you weren’t outside at night alone that you are safe, but that’s not the case,” Hamilton said. “You always need to be aware of your surroundings.”

Hamilton also said GVSU is looking at its procedures and is working to update the student code in ways like more clearly defining what “consent” means.

“Far more incidents occur than are reported,” he said. “We’re focusing attention on training and what the procedures are. Sometimes faculty members are told (about sexual harassment or assault) by students and they think they can’t tell because of FERPA but that’s not true. I don’t believe by any stretch that the number I receive reflects the number that occurs.”

Also in the meeting, Colette Seguin Beighley from the LGBT Resource Center spoke briefly to thank Student Senate for passing the resolution in support of the center some time ago, as well as voting to make Carrie Christian, the program coordinator in the center, the Laker of the Year. “This has really leveled the playing field for her,” Beighley said.

The fall break resolution was also passed during the meeting. Some of the data from the senate’s survey was also included.

According to the survey results, about 1,356 students responded and 84.2 percent said they would be willing to give up having the Tuesday after Labor Day off for a fall break. Also, 81.5 percent said a fall break would be beneficial for their academic endeavors, 85 percent said having a break wouldn’t hinder their ability to retain class material, and 86.5 percent said it would help to reduce stress levels and therefore help them learn more effectively.

There were about 444 faculty members that responded to the survey, as well, and although not as strongly as the students, the faculty seemed generally in favor of the proposal. Of those who responded, 79.4 percent of faculty agreed that they didn’t think a fall break would hinder their students’ ability to grasp and retain class material, and 49 percent said a break would help to reduce their stress level and help them teach more effectively.

The student senators said they look forward to next semester and are making goals for things they hope to accomplish.
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