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A Letter to UMaine Students

To our fellow students at the University of Maine,

We are writing this letter to notify you about the lack of information we have been provided regarding sexual assault on campus. The above image was taken from the Umaine campus crime statistics.  It represents sex offenses during years 2011, 2012 and 2013. It is important to notice how the number of sex offenses has more than doubled over the past 3 years. Sexual assault, according to the University of Maine’s Handbook, is defined as “non-consensual penetration of the genitals, anus or mouth of one by the genitals or fingers of another, or an instrument or device manipulated by another person. This may include vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse (sodomy), oral sex, or non-consensual sexual penetration of genital or anal openings by a foreign object, including a finger. Force, the threat of physical harm, coercion, or manipulation may be present during non-consensual sexual intercourse. Non-consensual sexual intercourse may take many forms including, but not limited to, rape by a stranger, an acquaintance, while on a date; rape by multiple perpetrators (often referred to as “gang rape”), and may occur both on and off campus”. In 2013, there was an act released called Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. Part of this act elaborates on campus safety provisions, which are sometimes called Campus SaVE, which is an acronym for Sexual Violence Elimination. In regards to the University of Maine website, we are lacking in the following areas:

–           Hate crimes motivated by gender identity bias and national origin bias to the statistics.

Thankfully, the university does provide the following:

–           Options and support to students who report an incident of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

–          A detailed breakdown on the number of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking incidents that occur on campus every year. (on the UMaine Website or through Student Life)

–          Mandated reporters all around campus

–          Allow students to bring an adviser of their choice to any disciplinary proceeding.

–          Programs to prevent dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

–          Updated annual security report to include:

–          The procedures, steps, and time lines that the institutions will follow when one of these crimes has been reported

            and training for those involved in the proceedings.

Even though the information above is available, it is a challenge to find it. Therefore, we request for more readily available and accessible statistics. Fortunately, the University of Maine has had a few campaigns to raise awareness such as The Ending Violence Against Women March and the awareness month. We also had the Rock Against Rape fundraiser set up by one of our fraternities. We also have the SafeCampus Project work to reduce sexual assault, relationship abuse and stalking. Although these are beneficial, there is always more that our school can do to raise awareness and provide us with the information we deserve to know about when it comes to matters such as this. On the UMaine website there is a lot of information about these issues, but they are not necessarily accessible unless you are specifically looking for information about this topic area. If the website made this information more accessible to the students, more people may be aware about violence against women on campus.

The above information that is missing from the annual report should be made available through other medias too. For example, they could send out the mass e-mail on FirstClass, popular among college students is Facebook and Twitter. In addition, we noticed that the Safe Campus Project is not available anymore. Safe Campus is a project that promotes education intervention and abuse prevention to help reduce sexual assault relationship abuse and stalking. It also provides members of the UMaine community affected by assault or abuse advocacy, support and educational resources.  We do not want voices to go unheard, therefore we would like to request the university to reconsider the Safe Campus project or possibly even install more programming geared towards services for survivors paired with prevention methods or programming.

We are writing this letter as the men and women of the University of Maine involved in the Intro to Women Gender and Sexuality Studies course on campus to the university to make information more accessible and transparent. We have learned about a wide range of topics concerning this issue. We know where we stand as individuals and we want to reduce and eventually end violence against women on campus whether it be physical, sexual, or any form of intimate partner violence. Our goal is to raise awareness about this issue and we hope to make the campus safer as a result of letting people know how serious these issues are in our own community.

Sincerely,

Ending Violence Against Women Group

Sujita Pandey, Jessica Baldwin, Aleia Ansin, Curtis Lonergan, Connor Mccarthy, and Noura Al-Matrouk

WGS 101 

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