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Student Government against sexual assault

Proposed bill will suspend SG members under investigation

By Lauren Sullivan, Staff Writer

Mason’s Student Government is taking a stand against sexual assault this semester by introducing new legislation, promoting a safety app and teaming up with Patriots in Action to hold events for victims.

“We, as leaders of Student Government, need to take action now to show the student body that we will not let heinous acts of sexual violence erode our campus culture,” said Senator Corey Berkey.

With the rise of the #MeToo movement and the prevalence of sexual assault college campuses, the Mason Student Senate introduced a bill to amend the Code of Student Governance to stand in solidarity with victims of sexual assault and harassment.

“Sexual assault and harassment happens everywhere, and that does not exclude Student Government,” said Speaker Caiti Lively.

The text of the new proposed bill states, “If at any time a member of Student Government, including the Student Senate, Executive Cabinet, EDC [Elections and Disputes Commission], or anyone associated with Student Government, becomes the subject of a university investigation or a criminal investigation external to the university’s jurisdiction, to include sexual misconduct or behavioral misconduct, then he or she shall be suspended of all duties within Student Government.”

If passed, the amendment would suspend any Student Government member who is under investigation by the university. Lively hopes this bill will protect students and members of Student Government.

This bill is so important because as a student leader on this campus and representative of our diverse student body we need to hold to ourselves to an even higher standard,”  said Lively. “Currently there is no standard of any sort to ensure our members uphold a moral and ethical code.”

While the bill applies to all types of criminal complaints, sexual assault has been a particular focus for Student Government in other ways this semester as well.

In addition to the amendment, Student Government is working to promote the Rave Guardian app that is designed to keep students safe. This app allows students to report thing directly to the university – ranging from broken handicap doors to stalking to sexual harassment and assault. Chairwoman Claire Olivier said the senators hope the app will “help students in crisis.”

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. During the week of April 9-13, Student Government will be joining Patriots In Action to end sexual assault on campus. They will be hosting events all week, including tabling at “Polaroid Pledge” events, where victims of sexual assault can write a #MeToo note to their offender. Other events include a Krav Maga self-defense class and Facts and Flowers in North Plaza.

“Student Government is actively encouraging other students and peers to get involved with the movement, and we are raising awareness at every turn we can,” said Berkey.

Photo by Allie Thompson