Trigger Warning: This article includes discussion of sexual assault.
At the Student Government Association’s Sept. 20 Senate meeting, several students and senators spoke up about social justice issues on campus.
During the open forum, Emmie Bruderer, director of Health and Wellness for SGA’s cabinet, gave a report on the Raise the Bar program.
“Raise the Bar is an initiative that was started in conjunction with the Health Promotion and Wellness Services office to go and train local bars and businesses in bystander intervention,” Bruderer said.
Bruderer said the initiative has trained staff at Southeastern Bar, 17-16 Bar and Skybar Cafe so far.
“Now they know what to do in the event that something does happen, but we need Auburn students to know that the resource exists,” she said.
Regan Moss, senior in pre-med, College of Sciences and Mathematics ambassador for the Office of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity and student assistant for Women's Initiatives, also spoke on the student body’s response to recent incidents of sexual assault and harassment.
“In the past few weeks, the student body has, to more appropriate levels of magnitude as compared to before, expressed sentiments that the University is not keeping the student body safe,” she said.
Moss outlined some of her requests to the University, notably “gather(ing) more holistic statistics on accounts of sexual violence to more accurately inform prevention and intervention” and holding regular open forums.
She encouraged SGA to support and raise awareness for existing resources such as “SAFE Kits, filing reports, Safety and Security, Safe Harbor, Green Dot, Title IX, rape counselors and others,” also calling for the University to hire more certified trauma therapists at Student Counseling and Psychological Services.
“I urge SGA to extend the conversation beyond Greek Life, as that has been a central focus by many these past few weeks,” Moss said. "A more effective initiative would focus on rape in relationships, coercion amongst peers, red flags of unhealthy dating and other factors and accounts that are specific to the reports made by Auburn students.”
Moss said student government, as well as University administration, should keep the needs of its whole community in mind.
She asked for expansion of the Green Dot program, as well as the introduction of a “high-risk security shuttle” and other measures. Some of these requests were repeated from Moss’ letter to administration on the same topic, written over a year ago.
“While instances of sexual and interpersonal violence may be complex and nuanced, the University’s role is not,” Moss said. “The University has held student groups responsible before for their actions, even ones remarkably less heinous than sexual violence. Clear consequences should be developed and enacted for any and every student organization that precipitates, feeds, excuses and obscures any violent act, sexual in nature or not.”
She also said that “more student buy-in” was necessary to address these issues, challenging the student body to “consider what role they are playing in their personal lives to eradicate sexual violence.”
Also on the floor was a report from Sam Hinson, senator in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, on the Board of Trustees’ response to student feedback on the name of Wallace Hall, one of the buildings used by CADC students.
Several efforts have been made to change the name of the building, currently bearing the namesake of former governor and segregationist George Wallace.
“This decision [to leave the name] is disappointing to the students of CADC, especially when our peer institution, the University of Alabama, announced that they’re changing the names of two buildings on their campus with troubled namesakes this past weekend,” Hinson said. “I feel the Board’s decision was not made in the interest of the students of the college, which should be what matters, and that they failed to acknowledge the troubled past of this University effectively like Alabama has."
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.
Emma Kirkemier, junior in English literature with a minor in journalism, is the campus reporter for The Auburn Plainsman.