Student task force takes on sexual assault

By Sam Beard, @SamBeard_DE

From the Pope to the president, people are talking about sexual assault. This Monday is no different, as SIU administrators are prepared to answer questions regarding the topic.  

The It’s On Us student task force, a group dedicated to ending sexual assaults on campus, is facilitating an open forum between students and administrators at 6 p.m. Monday in Guyon Auditorium of Morris Library.

The 10-person panel at the forum will seat administrators, including President Randy Dunn and Department of Public Safety Director Benjamin Newman, who along with eight others will answer questions during the question and answer segment. 

Advertisement

It’s On Us is an initiative started by President Barack Obama last Fall that urges grassroots methods to end sexual assaults on campus.

Kelly Meloy, a co-chairwoman of SIU’s task force, said the group brought the White House campaign to the university to further advance the mission of ending sexual assaults everywhere.

“SIU’s chapter was started to help prevent sexual assault, domestic violence, rape and stalking on campus,” said Meloy — a freshman from Chicago studying business management — who chairs the group with Savannah McCord and Nick Roberts.

Loreli Martin, a senior from DeKalb studying physical therapy, said people come to college ignorant to the reality of sexual assault. 

“I don’t think high schools do sexual assault education justice,” Martin said. “I don’t think students understand how much of an issue it is until they get to college and have to start thinking for themselves.”

Martin said sexual assault effects everyone, and men get sexually assaulted as well.

In a speech last year, Obama said one in five women are sexually assaulted while at college, 12 percent of which get reported.

Meloy said people are unaware that most sexual assaults go unreported, and victims have a variety of channels to take when seeking help. 

“If the victim goes through SIU first then they have the decision to go to the Carbondale Police, and further on,” she said.

Chad Trisler, director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, said if the victim chooses to go to the police first, there are still many avenues of support available through the university. 

One of the task force’s main goals is to explain university policies about sexual assault, Meloy said.

Roberts, a sophomore from Greenville studying political science, said the task force, is tabling around campus, passing out flyers and encouraging staff and faculty on campus to push student involvement. 

Meloy said women are more involved than men in sexual assault awareness campaigns, but male allies are a key part of the mission.

“We are reaching out to everyone because [the need for sexual assault awareness] is not specific to any one group,” Meloy said. “We’re looking to spread awareness to everyone — males and females.”

Roberts said the best thing for students to do is to be exemplary and be someone you can be proud of.

Next week’s panel, which will run until about 8 p.m., is open to everyone and It’s On Us leaders encourage students to come with questions of top-administration about sexual assault. 

The task force, which was created last semester, aims to become a Registered Student Organization next semester. 

Sam Beard can be reached at [email protected]

Advertisement