On Oct, 14, President Dana Mohler-Faria introduced the initiation of the Presidential Task Force on Sexual Assault Prevention at an open forum hosted by Student Government Association. The SGA Forum was hosted in the Horace Mann Auditorium where the audience consisted of students, faculty, security guards and transit drivers.
The SGA forum allowed open dialogue for the Bridgewater State University community to voice concerns, add commentary, and directly question Mohler-Faria.
In response to the delayed sexual assault notification to BSU students, President Mohler-Faria stated, “We knew, the administration, there was no threat to the campus.”
The President conveyed his strategy “don’t react, respond” to the alleged sexual assaults on campus. He also stated, “Students need to take charge to help us create a safer environment.”
President Mohler-Faria proposed adding 24/7 surveillance cameras on campus, with signs indicating that the cameras are in use. There was overwhelming agreement among audience members to add more blue lights and security on campus, especially in dark-lit areas such as the Tower lot.
The SGA forum emphasized that there has to be increased communication between the administration, students and BSU Police Department. A female student stressed that events such as Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) course are not advertised enough.
Another female student stated that she, along with a friend, was aggressively cat-called late at night on Spring Street and the Transit Service denied to pick them up.
Mohler-Faria then introduced the induction of the Presidential Task Force on Sexual Assault Prevention. According to the Task Force press release, “This group will be formally charged [Oct. 14] and [Mohler-Faria] will be asking members to engage in a comprehensive discussion concerning how we might improve every aspect of campus safety relative to sexual assault and relationship violence, including matters of education, support for survivors, communications, and any other dimensions pertaining to this critical issue.”
The Task Force consists of approximately 20 individuals, which range from “subject-expert faculty, staff, students, assault survivors, parents, administrators and trustees.” Members of the Task Force will join together to improve safety standards on the BSU campus and present these ideas to Mohler-Faria and the Board in December.
Dr. Jason Pina, Vice President for Student Affairs, and Dr. Susan Szachowicz, BSU alumna and Secretary of the Board of Trustees, will serve as co-chairs of the Presidential Task Force on Sexual Assault Prevention and will guide the Task Force as the group prepares to present a final report.
“I believe the SGA Open Forum was a success and I thank Mohler-Faria and all those who came out to participate in this much-needed dialogue. I strongly encourage the BSU community to reach out to the student representatives on this task force so that we can voice your thoughts and concerns,” said SGA President Kevin Costa.
At the open forum, the President questioned, “Can you walk around this campus at 3am or 10am and still feel safe?”
The majority of students replied that they feel safe during the daytime, but find the campus “creepy” at night. Due to the two sexual assault allegations within Pope Hall, several students advocated that they be properly addressed and educated on safety and sexual assaults within residence halls.
Costa said, “I believe it is important to provide support for all those who are survivors of sexual assault and put in place more resources for students on our campus in regards to sexual assault awareness, rape prevention, and violence prevention as a whole.”
Stephanie Dawber is the News Editor of The Comment. Follow her on Twitter @StephanieDawber or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org