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Students Plan Rally Outside Mass Hall on Sexual Assault

Undergraduates are planning to rally outside Massachusetts Hall on Thursday and demand additional Title IX training, call for more funding toward sexual assault counseling resources, and share personal stories about sexual violence on campus.

Massachusetts Hall
Massachusetts Hall.

The rally follows a campus-wide response to the University’s sexual misconduct survey that showed that 31 percent of female undergraduate seniors surveyed had experienced some kind of sexual misconduct during their time at Harvard. Students have also recently published op-eds about campus rape.

Organizers said these recent events demonstrated a need for more students to describe their experiences and call for changes to Harvard’s undergraduate Title IX policies, which are currently under scrutiny as the College faces an ongoing federal probe.

“There’s really a great need and demand for a forum in which people can tell their stories,” said Megan G. Jones ’16, an organizer for the rally. “These are stories that Harvard community members, particularly administrators, need to hear.”

Rally organizers said they are requesting four demands: mandatory yearly sexual assault training for undergraduates, an increase in funding of 50 percent to Harvard’s Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, additional uniform training for Houses’ sexual violence response tutors, and that the three initiatives be implemented by the start of the spring semester.

Viviana I. Maymi ’16, who penned a recent op-ed in The Crimson called “Here’s How I Was Raped,” said administrators must bolster OSAPR funding to hire additional sexual assault counselors. Last year, University President Drew G. Faust accepted recommendations from a University sexual assault task force that increased OSAPR funding and doubled its staff.

Organizers also call for increased mandatory training both for the House’s sexual assault and sexual harassment tutors and undergraduates. Incoming freshmen currently attend a workshop about consent, but many undergraduates, including anti-sexual assault advocacy group Our Harvard Can Do Better, have pushed for a shift to mandatory yearly training. All three tickets in this year’s Undergraduate Council presidential elections called for yearly training required for undergraduates.

Andrea Ortiz ’16 also argued that the expertise among the College’s Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment tutors can vary among Houses, and that administrators should increase the number of training hours.

“Having uniform training, compassionate training, for every single SASH tutor across the board.... having many more hours and many more consistent conversations is what we really need,” she said.

Maymi said the organizers have called for the changes to be implemented by the end of winter break to emphasize the urgency of the proposals. Steven E. Hyman, chair of the sexual assault prevention task force and a former University provost, is also expected to release a report of recommendations around that same time.

“These are things that can happen without the extremely detailed and nuanced policy changes that the task force is going to suggest to Drew Faust,” Maymi said.

University spokesperson Tania deLuzuriaga wrote in an emailed statement that the presidential task force has solicited the thoughts of many students and that “expanded resources and training are among a number of potential recommendations currently under discussion.”

—Staff writer Noah J. Delwiche can be reached at noah.delwiche@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @ndelwiche.

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