The Harvard Alliance for Safety Training Education (HASTE) yesterday hosted its second meeting in two weeks for undergraduates concerned with Harvard's policies regarding rape and sexual assault.
Students expressed apprehension about the level of safety awareness on campus in the wake of the alleged assault and attempted rape of a female Harvard student on Linden Street last Tuesday night.
Harvard does not have a mandatory program on sexual assault and the issues surrounding rape by strangers and acquaintances, group members said.
I feel like it is ridiculous that a university of Harvard's caliber doesn't have a mandatory campus safety and sexual assault program," said Lamelle D. Rawlins '99, secretary of the Undergraduate Council and a member of the peer counseling group Response.
But according to Assistant Dean of Freshmen Eleanor A. Sparagana, such issues are covered in the mandatory orientation week seminar on community standards for first-years. The session also addresses questions about plagiarism.
Plans for next year's orientation week include a two-hour slot for members of HASTE and the Harvard University Police Department to give a presentation about issues of student safety.
But this new program will not be mandatory.
Students at the meeting said they agreed with Rawlins's assertion that "people [who] really need to be reached won't come to the program unless it is mandatory."
The group compiled a list of suggestions yesterday for the administration to better educate students about sexual assault, including a mandatory program for first-years on safety and sexual assault during orientation week.
The group also plans to request a mandatory information session about the peer counseling groups and resources available on campus, in addition to a reinstatement of mandatory outreach programs to students throughout their first year.
Rawlins said she plans to work toward implementing these suggestions by presenting them in a resolution at the Undergraduate Council's Student Affairs Committee meeting this week.
Rosslyn Wuchinich '99, a member of HASTE, said although members of the administration have been approached with the idea of a mandatory orientation week training, no move has been made to implement such a program.
Parents are sending their children to Harvard, to Boston, where it is supposedly safe; and that is an image the administration wants to keep," said Lisa B. Eisen '97, a co-director of Peer Relations and Date Rape Education.
Scott F. Malcolm '97, a member of the same peer counseling group, said Harvard is perceived as being more concerned with safety than it is.
"People think Harvard sets the standard for other schools because it sets the standard for the academic community, but it is still like every other school, with the same problems and the same social issues," he said.
Rawlins said these changes are necessary for students to get the most out of their Harvard education.
"Student empowerment is really what is at stake here," Rawlins said. "As it stands now, we have not been given the tools to feel safe on campus and in relationships."
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