UMass students voice outrage over racism and sexual assault in an open forum with the Chancellor – Massachusetts Daily Collegian


Around 200 students filled the student union’s ballroom to request a change from the university

A panel of administrators from the University of Massachusetts hosted an open forum Tuesday on sexual assault in response to allegations made against the Theta Chi Brotherhood last week. Around 200 students took part in the event and filled the student union’s ballroom. Students raised concerns about the sexual assault reporting process, recent racist incidents and the general presence of fraternities at UMass.

In his opening speech, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy announced a three-tier initiative to improve campus response to sexual violence.

As a first step, he announced that the university would work to pass “a version” of the Survivors Bill of Rights, an initiative that the Student Government Association has been working on since 2015. Subbaswamy stated that the modified version was “in accordance with federal and state law.”

The second step the university will take is to hire an outside firm to facilitate a review of “all reports of sexual misconduct – regardless of what office they hold – dating back seven years,” said Subbaswamy.

“Based on the results of the review, we will take very specific steps to combat this behavior,” he said. When Subbaswamy was asked to explain this in more detail later during the event, it failed to explain the exact steps.

“His unwillingness to communicate concrete, concrete steps is really disheartening,” said the organizer Anna Morel-Paletta, a BDIC student in her second year.

McKenna Premus / Daily Collegian

Finally, Subbaswamy stated that the university will work with a sexual assault prevention advisor who will “evaluate the culture in every aspect of the university body and offer ideas on how we can create a safer and more respectful environment”.

He added that the company will be set up within the next four weeks Title IX website.

The administrators of the event also consisted of Vice Chancellor Brandi Hephner LaBanc, Student Dean Evelyn Ashley, Vice Chancellor and Human Resources Director Bill Brandy and Deputy Vice Chancellor for Equal Opportunities Kerri Tillett.

Students raised their concerns about microphones on either side of the stage in front of the podium and waited in long lines to speak.

McKenna Premus / Daily Collegian

In addition to discussions about the problem of sexual assault at UMass, the students also expressed their outrage about a racist email that was sent to black student organizations in mid-September. By doing opinion Chancellor Subbaswamy announced that the university had hired a cybersecurity firm this week to track down the sender.

“Please don’t make the mistake of believing this is an anomaly,” said Jordan O’Hare Gibson, junior major in biology, during the event. “It happens every year,” he said, referring to racist incidents on the UMass campus.

UMass plans to set up a student and faculty black advisory board that will “make recommendations to the Office of Equity and Inclusion that will improve the on-campus experience of black students, faculty and staff,” Subbaswamy said was sent to the student body on Monday.

Some students are not confident that conditions will improve.

“I was so angry. I was so mad, ”said Zach Steward, junior law and African American studies. “They have established councils before, and these councils have never …”

Although the forum was public, the university did not make it public. Instead, the day before the event, they emailed a few select student organizers who used social media to get the word out.

At the forum, students asked that the university hold another forum and send an email to the entire campus community several days in advance. In addition, many were unable to speak to administrators due to lack of time. The board of administrators did not agree to this request.

McKenna Premus / Daily Collegian

A small group of organizers at the forefront of the Sexual Assault Movement at UMass will meet with Vice Chancellor LaBanc on Wednesday to discuss additional measures, including “Explain the Asterix – Hampshire County” and Instagram account on helping and assisting students in Hampshire County with sexual assault.

“Transparency is very important to us. Processes like this require a lot of negotiations and discussions, ”said the organizer Anika Nayak, a second year student with a focus on women, gender and sexuality.

“It is clear that a lot of students want to share their experiences with them and the administration is forced to face things that didn’t work for them,” said organizer Clare Sheedy, a junior with a focus on public health sciences and women, Gender, Sexuality Studies.

“As steps are taken to resolve issues on campus, I hope there are more forums like this one, more cases where students and faculty can be transparent about each other,” Gibson said.

Zoe Lee-Davis, a sophomore art student, said, “I think most of your answers have been very vague. I think they all came here with insufficient information about what is going on on their own campus. And only basic information about Greek life. “

The Collegian News Team can be reached at [email protected]. Follow them on Twitter @CollegianNews.


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