Virginia Tech students demand transparency from sexual violence work group

The group was created 17 months ago by President Tim Sands

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Seventeen months ago, Virginia Tech President Tim Sands created a sexual violence climate and culture work group to address a growing concern over sexual assaults on campus.

10 News spoke to students Monday who say they aren’t satisfied with the progress they’re seeing and are asking for more transparency.

In 2021, a group of students came together to protest how sexual assaults are handled on campus.

Junior Jenna Malyn says this protest sparked President Sand’s work group.

Seventeen months later, Malyn says she’s disappointed.

“There’s been no substantial change that’s been integrated into the fabric of the university. Everything has been like a temporary event,” she said.

Mayln, along with the United Feminist Movement on campus, wants to see policy changes in the University in regard to creating a safe environment on campus. They also want to see more resources for survivors when there is an assault.

“It’s a very vulnerable and difficult time after an event like that happens, specifically on campus, so I think that we need to be doing more overall to give them the resources they need,” Malyn said.

University spokesperson Mark Owczarski says the issue of sexual assault is too complex to be resolved in the 17 months since the workgroup started.

“It will take us a great deal of time to fully understand, address and educate and continuously work on taking the threat of sexual assault and sexual violence off of our community,” Owczarski said.

Owczarski says the group is meeting with students to understand the scope of the problem, but it’s more difficult to change policy.

“We must have policies and procedures that align with state and federal law,” he said.

United Feminist Movement president Carolina Bell says she knows the group is trying, but she wants more transparency. They are holding their annual Take Back the Night rally later this month to address sexual violence and hold the University accountable.

“We haven’t had any meeting minutes or reports based on that work,” Bell said.

The Take Back the Night rally will be held on April 26 at 7 p.m. on Henderson Lawn.

About the Author:

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.