Dear UNL's Response to the UNL
Campuswide Collaborative on Sexual Misconduct
Thanksgiving Break is over which brings the end of the Red Zone, the period of time on college campuses where 50% of sexual assaults will occur during the academic year. It is during this time that the University of Nebraska-Lincoln worked to develop a Campuswide Collaborative on Sexual Misconduct, which was originally announced as the Title IX Collaborative, which consists of “three working groups in key areas: prevention and education; intervention; and policy, procedures and practices.”
While we approve of the University’s efforts to address sexual violence on campus, we disapprove of and renounce the UNL administration’s lack of insurance of inclusion of survivors on the Committee, their refusal to appoint a Graduate Student Assembly representative onto the Committee, and the fact that this collaborative was originally announced by the UNL administration as a Title IX Collaborative which was supposed to “work in an advisory role, consulting with the chancellor on matters related to Title IX and violence prevention.”
Members of Dear UNL, Mar Lee and Luz Sotelo, were nominated by the undergraduate and graduate student governments to serve as experts on the committee due to their personal experiences with Title IX and being public survivors, their campus leadership roles being involved with student government, and their community leadership efforts to bring awareness to the on-going systemic abuse, neglect, and silencing of survivors of sexual violence by and within the UNL Title IX Office. Both Mar Lee and Luz Sotelo were not approved through the nomination process by Chancellor Green and were informed that the initial committee is barring anyone who filed a report to the Title IX Office from serving on it.
According to UNL spokesperson Leslie Reed, “the collaborative does not include people who have been complainants in a Title IX-related case at UNL because the collaborative would then also need to include people who have been respondents.” This is despite Chancellor Green expressing during his initial announcement of the Title IX Collaborative Committee to members of Dear UNL that we would be able to pursue proper channels in order to be involved. Yet at the end of the day, Chancellor Green was the decider in who had a voice on the committee and chose not to involve the “survivors of sexual assault and harassment who have courageously come together through their personal experiences to call for elevated University attention to prevention, advocacy, and support.”
Within the Campuswide Collaborative on Sexual Misconduct, there is a Student Committee that is open for any students to apply to participate in, including those who have reported to Title IX and those who have been accused of sexual misconduct. This committee is meant to provide students a voice within the collaborative, but without giving the students the same amount of deciding power as those within the appointed committee on what will be proposed to Chancellor Green regarding recommendations for reform at UNL. We are encouraging all students who are invested in bettering how are campus prevents and responds to sexual misconduct to apply here to serve on the Student Committee.
On Friday, November 22nd, members of Dear UNL, Lee and Sotelo, met with the co-chairs of the Collaborative to question why they were not approved to serve on the committee after being informed that the committee was barring anyone who filed a report to the Title IX Office from serving on it. The co-chairs of the Campuswide Collaborative on Sexual Misconduct are Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Dr. Laurie Bellows, and Dr. Susan Swearer, who is a leading researcher on bullying, but not in research related to sexual misconduct. During this meeting, the co-chairs denied this claim regarding complainants being barred from the committee, contradicting the claim of UNL spokesperson Leslie Reed. Members of Dear UNL were then told by Dr. Bellows that this committee would not be assessing the Title IX Office and repeatedly insisted that this Campuswide Collaborative on Sexual Misconduct had nothing to do with Title IX.
So our question is now: when is UNL going to stop giving survivors the run around and do something to actually address the abuse and neglect that is taking place on its campus?