Administration Should Accept Proposed Policy Revision, or Risk Similarity to GOP
The GOP recently tried to limit the definition of rape to “forcible rape,” or a violent attack — because if incest, statutory rape, spousal rape and date rape aren’t considered rape, the victims won’t be eligible for government-funded abortions. Republican leaders want to take that protection away from far too many women.
Meanwhile, here at The New School, the Feminist Collective, a student group dedicated to women’s issues, working in collaboration with the university office of Student Health Services, is doing the opposite: fighting to extend protection to as many victims as possible. As the Free Press reports elsewhere in this issue, the Feminist Collective has submitted a revised assault policy to the university that is progressive and comprehensive. We hope that the administration will approve and implement this new policy as soon as possible.
For far too long, The New School’s assault policy has been grossly outdated and excessively lenient. And its lack of definition has stripped it of any legal efficacy. Rapists in dorms have reportedly gotten away with their crimes because either they or their victims were drunk at the time of the attack.
Additionally, the policy’s lack of a clear definition of consent makes acquaintance rape and date rape almost impossible to address.
The revised policy proposed by the Feminist Collective provides a thorough definition of “sexual assault,” delineating it as an illegal act that occurs when the boundaries of mutual consent are violated. The proposed revision also provides a definition of consent, emphasizing that it should be the “cornerstone” of the policy, whereas the existing policy mentions it only in passing.
In building their proposed policy around the importance of consent, the Feminist Collective has sought to empower victims of sexual assault. The authors have focused on the main issue, the violation of a person’s right to say “yes” or “no,” rather than becoming mired in a debate over details of the circumstances under which that right was violated.
The university has been presented with an opportunity to give students the protection and security they deserve. They would be foolish not to embrace it.
In an ideal world, students wouldn’t have to worry about being assaulted. But if they are, they should at least have the comfort of knowing that a system is in place to help them cope as well as punish and remove their attackers.
Sexual assault is a matter far too serious to be obscured by semantic debate. We urge the university to accept the proposed revision, and not to water it down so much in the process that it becomes indistinguishable from the old, long-outdated policy. The idea here is progress, not just the appearance of progress.