A Growing Movement: Students Aim to Change Culture and Policies Surrounding Sexual Assault on Campus

3,066. That’s the number of students—85 percent of those who voted in the latest UC election—who agreed with the UC referendum asserting that Harvard should reexamine its sexual assault practices and policies.

It’s a number that has caught the administration’s attention: In response to student concern, the Office of Student Life, under Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds, has recently convened a Sexual Assault Resources working group. The working group will “assess accessibility, transparency, and gaps in services,” writes Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response director Sarah A. Rankin. It is a response to at least a semester’s worth of actively voiced student concern.

read more: A Growing Movement: Students Aim to Change Culture and Policies Surrounding Sexual Assault on Campus

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[Crimson] Respect our Referenda

Carrying the imprimatur of the democratic process, and the mandate of heavy majorities, these three referenda should prompt the administration to open up their closed doors, and to respect the student body’s role as a stakeholder and partner in governing the campus and University. Students like Kate Sim ’14 and Pearl Bhatnagar ’14, who proposed the referendum on sexual assault policy, should be welcomed into the meetings where the feasibility of changes to that policy are discussed. Representatives from Divest Harvard should have the chance to engage in a thoughtful face-to-face debate with the president of the University on the subject of fossil fuel divestment.

We are confident in the ability of Harvard student activists to effect change, regardless of how receptive the administration initially appears. It is imperative that activists don’t prematurely give up the fight, as history shows us that the administration usually comes around in due time, once pressure multiplies.

But with the referenda process, the ball is in the administration’s court. It should not take weeks of sleeping outside in tents to bring student activists to the negotiating table with President Faust. The administration has been given a unique chance to inaugurate a new era of responsiveness to and partnership with students, and we expect them to do so.

read more: [Crimson] Respect our Referenda