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Virginia Tech students say new sexual assault prevention policies aren’t enough

VT’s United Feminist Movement says more student voices need to be heard when addressing sexual violence climate and culture

After reports of sexual assaults on Virginia Tech’s campus prompted protests last month, the university is making adjustments to combat the issue, but some students believe the changes aren’t enough.

BLACKSBURG, Va. – After reports of sexual assaults on Virginia Tech’s campus prompted protests last month, the university is making adjustments to combat the issue, but some students believe the changes aren’t enough.

Virginia Tech’s student-run organization, United Feminist Movement called out for change in October and again this weekend, asking the university to create a plan to address sexual violence.

Thursday, University President, Tim Sands responded by creating the Sexual Violence Culture and Climate Work Group.

UFM President, Carolina Bell believes this newly formed group is not enough.

“The group that Tim Sands appointed is mostly administrators and there are two undergraduate students but there are no graduated students represented,” she said. “And no specific university chartered organizations or cultural centers or things like that, which kind of goes off the message that we want for representation and student voices being heard,” said Bell.

In a statement released to 10 News University Relation Vice President, Mark Owczarski said,

“He [President Sands] noted that those with formal (and in many cases legally mandated) responsibility for implementing sustainable change are represented on the work group, yet that alone is not enough. He expects all members of the work group to engage with impacted communities, and he promises that engagement will be genuine and extensive.”

Sands says the group will be dedicated to ending sexual violence and creating more preventative programs.

But Bell and her organization voiced concerns over the lack of guidelines and goals laid out for the appointed group.

“I think short-term goals is communication and accountability at Virginia Tech,” she said. “And then long-term goals would be increasing funding for counseling and long-term structuring goals for education and things like that,” said Bell.

Owczarski said in a statement that “Virginia Tech and UFM are 100 percent united in our belief that sexual assault and sexual violence is absolutely unacceptable in our community. We are indeed partners in this effort.”

Bell agrees they’re working towards a common goal, but may have different views on how to get there.

“I think that the entire community wants it to be a safer and more inclusive place. I think we have different views about how that should be accomplished but I think it’s really important to think about how the students are the basis of this school and we are all here for that,” said Bell. “So student voices and faculty and staff should be leading the way cause we are the heart of this university,” she said.


About the Author:

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.