(opinions) UFM Sexual Assault Rally 2021

Students gather to protest sexual assault at Virginia Tech at the United Feminists Movement Rally, Sept. 28, 2021. 

Dear President Sands, Vice President Shushok, Vice President Menah Pratt-Clarke and Dean Hughes,

 

We appreciate your responses to United Feminist Movement’s push for a university-wide action plan addressing the pervasive issue of sexual violence in our community. While we know you are resolved to address this issue, the greater Virginia Tech community has not seen the University’s commitment on this problem.

With each new Clery Act email, members of the community become increasingly concerned for their own safety and for their ability to pursue their social and academic endeavors at Virginia Tech. Unfortunately, over the past month it has become all too common to hear students saying that they are avoiding university sponsored events for their own safety. The community continues to express these concerns and see the lack of communication from administration as complacency for sexual violence.

We urge you to release a public statement acknowledging the communities of students, faculty, and staff that are concerned about sexual violence on our campus and announce the development of a university-wide task force to target this issue. Further, any plan enacted by the university must be open and transparent and involve input from across the university. A public acknowledgement of this initiative is necessary both to address this pervasive issue and to make our community members feel heard and cared for.

As a group, UFM is committed to being an intersectional voice on campus. However, we also recognize that we do not represent all members of the Virginia Tech community. The voices of different groups of students, organizations, faculty, and staff must be represented to create an effective action plan.

Marginalized members of the community must be centered in this commitment, as they are disproportionately impacted by sexual violence at Virginia Tech. The sustainable growth of a diverse Virginia Tech community is only possible if these communities feel safe, supported, and included on our campus.

Community input and discussion is needed in the university’s plans to address sexual violence. This can involve appointing community representatives to the task force, opening the drafted plans to the community for review feedback, or holding town hall discussions. Regardless of the form, the community voice must be present. Given the wide support of the UFM 2020 demands and recent protest, we know that this is an issue the Virginia Tech community cares deeply about and are ready to act on. UFM leadership would like to meet with you all as soon as possible to discuss these plans and to help ensure transparency throughout this process.

United Feminist Movement is calling on the administration to act now to release a public statement and begin carrying out a transparent, university-wide, collaborative action plan addressing sexual violence in our community. We know this is a huge undertaking, but together we can make a safer community for all Hokies.

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