North Texas Daily

Sexual assault prevention statement added as optional in Course Syllabi Requirements

Sexual assault prevention statement added as optional in Course Syllabi Requirements

April 19
21:53 2018

An example statement about sexual assault prevention has been added to the UNT Policy Course Syllabi Requirements under optional statements and will go into effect in the fall semester.

The initiative is meant to raise more awareness about sexual assault among students by providing them with information on who to report violence to. Student Government Association (SGA) President Barrett Cole began the initiative in 2017 when she was vice president.

“This initiative is essential for our campus to increase awareness around a topic that is often uncomfortable to talk about,” Cole said. “The sexual assault syllabi language is a way to provide life-changing resources to students where they are at in the classroom.”

The SGA Senate voted yes Wednesday to send a resolution about the syllabi statement to university officials such as President Neal Smatresk, the Provost and Faculty Senate. Cole and SGA’s governmental affairs director Taylor Willis presented the initiative to the Faculty Senate on March 21.

Cole also worked with Willis, Director of UNT Survivor Advocates Renee McNamara, Title IX Coordinator Inya Baiye and Dean of Students Maureen McGuinness to create the language for this initiative.

The suggested syllabi language has been added to the Course Syllabi Policy 06.049 under optional statements. Cole said it cannot be added to the required statements because a sexual assault prevention section is not required by the Texas Legislature.

Finance junior Bryan Molina said he thinks it is “crazy” that a sexual assault prevention syllabi statement is not required by the state.

“It’s like they’re waiting to have enough incidents to finally include it,” Molina said. “Excluding something like this could be called ignorance at this point.”

Other Texas universities with similar syllabi suggestions include Texas Tech University, Texas State University and Baylor University.

The example statement will be added to the Teaching Excellence Handbook and will be discussed during new faculty training in August.

The sexual assault prevention syllabi statement asserts the university’s commitment to providing a safe learning environment for students “free of all forms of sexual misconduct.”

It also provides contact information for UNT’s Survivor Advocates who work with the Dean of Students to aid students affected by violence. Their page provides information on how to report sexual misconduct.

“I’m very excited about this endeavor because I think it would really help spread the word about my role on campus and the importance of Title IX on our campus,” McNamara said.

Required statements include accommodation for students with disabilities, safety procedures for laboratory courses and academic integrity. Optional statements at UNT include retention of student records, student conduct within the classroom and SPOT Course Evaluations.

Cole said she believes the syllabi statement will have a wide reach because every student has syllabi for their classes.

“I hope that providing the information in a way that is accessible by all students, faculty and staff that we can help break down some of the stigmas,” Cole said.

In 2017, the North Texas Daily reported 51.2 percent of 291 survey respondents at UNT agree to some extent that sexual assault is a significant problem on campus.

In 2018, the North Texas Daily reported 13.6 percent of 2,637 respondents reported that they were victims of sexual violence, and 8.9 percent of those students were first-year students and two-thirds were female.

International studies senior Manual Zegoua said she thinks this initiative will help with prevention. Zegoua did not know of the different resources at UNT to report sexual assault and seek help.

“For the university to have [guidelines] about what to do is a great initiative,” Zegoua said.

Molina said it is a good thing UNT has considered this initiative.

“Since UNT is primarily a place of learning, having the student experience a sense of comfort while here is a must,” Molina said.

In April, SGA took part in Sexual Assault Awareness Month by hosting an “It’s On Us” week of action with the Dean of Students, Survivor Advocate and the Title IX Coordinator.

The week of action kicked off on April 2. The week’s events included a Town Hall on April 3 and Take Back the Night on April 5.

“Having this information accessible at all times to students could make a real, lasting impact on our campus community,” Cole said.

Featured Image: File

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Zaira Perez

Zaira Perez

Senior News Writer

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