Editorial board

Like clockwork, the Grand Valley State University Annual Security and Fire Safety Report has shown some interesting data about safety at GVSU. The most significant reports this year are the instances of sexual violence and the liquor law enforcement numbers. In both cases, these numbers have increased from last year’s report.

For the past few years, sexual assault on college campuses has become more prominent in the national dialogue. This is an issue universities cannot hide from. GVSU President Thomas Haas has insisted that sexual assault is constantly on his mind and close to his heart.

This past year, GVSU was under scrutiny for its sexual assault policies after the U.S. Department of Education announced the university was under investigation for Title IX violations. Since then, it appears GVSU has stepped up its game.

We at the Lanthorn think it’s great the university is attempting to increase students’ willingness to learn more about sexual violence and to report incidents. There are now more options for reporting. People have the choice of finding resources through the police department or university personnel.

GVSU has also promoted a community effort to understand consent and prevent sexual assault. For instance, the “It’s On Us” video was shown at a home football game this season, making this kind of information a casual part of university events.

Students have a responsibility to learn about these issues, and the university should provide the resources to students so that they are informed.

However, it has been 11 months since the interim sexual misconduct policy came out, and there have not been any student forums. Students deserve a chance to express their opinions about the policy and add their input to the decision-making process. This policy directly impacts students, but they have yet to be given an opportunity to have their say.

Not only do students deserve the chance to share their views, but involving students in the process will help them become more educated on and content with the final product of the sexual misconduct policy.

The Association of American Universities recently found that one in four women reported they were the victim of sexual assault or misconduct. There are 12,826 women currently attending GVSU. That means 3,206 women would have had the same experience at GVSU. This is a shockingly large number, especially compared to the mere 13 students that reported a sexual assault in 2014.

Sexual assault is happening to college students, to our fellow Lakers. As such, Laker students should have a pivotal role in shaping GVSU’s sexual misconduct policy. It’s long past time that students get more involved in shaping what the policy will look like in the future.

GVSU has done a commendable job so far in their sexual assault awareness campaign, but that’s only half the battle. We need to get serious about our policies, and it needs to happen fast.