Student petition for sex survey gets 1,100 signatures
An online petition calling for the commissioning of an updated “Sexual Experiences Survey” has amassed over 1,100 signatures since it was first circulated on March 10.
The petition was authored by Shreya Murthy ’13, Siofra Robinson ’13 and Kellie Valladares ’13, with input from Kanwal Matharu ’13, earlier this month in response to the publication of a previously unpublished survey from 2008 showing that one in six female undergraduates reported non-consensual vaginal penetration.
“We were definitely shocked when the initial article had come out, but it seems that once we started asking questions it didn’t really seem like the University was necessarily trying to hide it or intentionally suppress it — more that they had just used it internally and hadn’t necessarily thought to make it as public, as perhaps students would want it to be,” Murthy said.
In response to the petition, Vice President for Campus Life Cynthia Cherrey, Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources and Education Program Director Jacqueline Deitch-Stackhouse and Women’s Center Director Amada Sandoval met with Murthy, Robinson and Valladares on Monday to discuss efforts that can be made on campus to address sexual assault.
“When we met with the students [who crafted the petition], we had a productive first discussion on how to continue to further our efforts in this area,” Director of News and Editorial Services in the Office of Communications Daniel Day said on behalf of Cherrey. “During the conversation, we found that the students’ goals aligned closely with much that’s already in progress, such as a potential online education program and expanding bystander intervention initiatives.”
After discovering that the University is currently participating in a national study by the American College Health Association that will survey about 50 percent of University undergraduates on topics that include sexual assault, the petition’s authors said they will no longer push for an additional survey, since one is already in the works. They said they plan to shift their focus toward determining ways that the data collected on sexual assault may be used on campus. However, they encourage students to continue to sign the petition.
“We think that there will be some sort of publication of data at some point and they will make the final call on that, but we want to direct our attention towards prevention and awareness efforts of sexual assault on campus,” Valladares said, adding that they want to focus on creating “some more prevention awareness initiatives to supplement what already goes on campus.”
The University has not yet received the data collected in the ACHA survey but anticipates completing the analysis of the data this summer and will release it soon after, according to Day.
Until that data is released, Murthy, Robinson and Valladeres said they have at least two major initiatives underway to raise greater awareness for sexual assault on campus, one of which will work in conjunction with SHARE’s Take Back the Night event in April.
“They’re focused on reaching the wider student body,” Robinson said. “It’s less for people that are already passionate about this kind of stuff and more for people that really would never think about it unless they were confronted with it.”
As all of the authors are seniors, they said they hope to be able to incorporate underclassmen in their plans so they can see these projects continue after graduation in June.
“I was very pleased with the response, and I’m glad to see that people are discussing these issues, thinking about the meaning of consent and it looks like the administration has been very supportive,” Matharu said. “It looks like we were successful at bringing this issue to light.”
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