Content Warning: Sexual violence, sexual assault, rape, intimate partner violence
According to a report by The Daily Campus from Jan. 27, 2023, Revolution Against Rape, a student organization at the University of Connecticut, has released a list of 16 demands for UConn administration. These demands refer to the handling of cases of sexual violence, and the support and resources available to people who experience sexual violence at UConn.
The demands include making resources transparently available to students, timely investigations, bi-monthly meetings of the Presidential Task Force on Combating Sexual Violence and Supporting Our Students, additional staff in various departments funded via the reallocation of funds from the UConn Police Department and more easily accessible reports. The demands also call for public training records — and training that is trauma-informed — for UCPD officers, monthly testing of the university’s Blue Light System, the creation of Residential Life policies and procedures regarding sexual and gender misconduct, an online system for submitting a University No-Contact Letter and protections for victim-survivors who experience sexual violence in various forms online.
Having written before about the need to make campus safety a priority, The Daily Campus Editorial Board commends RAR for working to hold the UConn administration accountable. Further, RAR’s mission overall — to foster awareness of sexual assault and end sexual violence through education, activism, reform and policy change — is necessary at a university that has historically and continuously failed to support survivors.
The Daily Campus Editorial Board has repeatedly written about UConn’s lack of administrative action on the front of sexual violence accountability. Almost a year after a string of protests demanding said action from the university regarding sexual violence on campuses, all the UConn administration has to show for itself is the aforementioned Presidential Task Force that has not made any tangible change on campus.
This task force published their final report in August of 2022, with a letter signed by a number of administrators who at the time held the titles of Interim President Radenka Maric, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Anne D’Alleva and Dean of Students and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Eleanor J.B. Daugherty.
In this letter, UConn administration promises to “Expand access to resources that provide immediate support and guidance for individuals impacted by sexual violence,” require a “third party assessment of policies and programs relating to sexual and intimate partner violence at the University of Connecticut” and to “Hire additional staff to increase the University’s capacity to assess our service, publicly share our goals and progress, and increase support for those directly impacted by sexual and interpersonal violence.” According to a Daily Campus article from Nov. 17, 2022, the Task Force reportedly only met once in the Fall 2022 semester for a progress report and will not meet again until March 2023.
The Task Force’s updates from Fall 2022 only suggest the completion of the following directives: the implementation of the LiveSafe app, an improvement in the ease of completing a Mutual No-Contact Directive and improvements in the language on UConn’s website regarding these directives and an expanded availability of Title IX brochures. The article also discussed in-progress projects of the Task Force, including an expansion of the Pack Leader Program, additional staff being hired to focus on Title IX matters and bystander education, the redesigning of the presentation of informational resources and an exploratory group focusing on “a research center focusing on sexual violence on college and university campuses.”
While it would be inaccurate to say the university has done nothing to improve the resources available to sexual violence victim-survivors on campus, it would be less accurate to say UConn has done anything significant. When it comes to the safety and well-being of students, mediocre progress is unacceptable. While many of the implemented directives are in line with RAR’s demands, these are only a step in the right direction at best. Simply put, the work of the Task Force does not do enough to support or protect students, and is indicative of the larger, university-wide problem of not having students’ interests at the forefront of campus policies and practices. That being said, The Daily Campus Editorial Board encourages the student body, including organizations like RAR, to continue pressuring the administration to genuinely protect our pack.