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Our Harvard Can Do Better Discusses Sexual Assault On Campus

By Margot D. Dionne, Crimson Staff Writer

Our Harvard Can Do Better, an anti-sexual assault advocacy organization, held its first meeting of the semester Wednesday, setting goals for the year and discussing the history of the organization for students interested in joining.

Among this year’s priorities, the group is calling on the University to provide better accommodations for victims of sexual assault and host regular training sessions for students. The group also hopes to continue to work with the Title IX Office to address sexual assault on campus after Mia Karvonides, Harvard’s former Title IX Officer, left the University in January.

“We’re gonna be pushing for a lot of demands that we’ve been quite vocal about in the past,” Amelia Y. Goldberg ’19, a member of Our Harvard Can Do Better, said.

In the five years the organization has been operating, members have taken a number of steps to criticize the University’s response to Title IX, including filing a Title IX complaint against the College and organizing students to advocate for survivors. Students from Our Harvard Can Do Better have also worked with members of the Title IX office to help craft informational materials about Harvard’s Title IX policies.

At Wednesday’s meeting, members of the organization discussed their past actions and offered new goals for the upcoming semester.

“The campus could be doing so much more,” Drisana M. Mosaphir ’17, a member of the group, said. “It’s really helpful to have an active student campaign working on this at all times.”

Kate Sim ’14 and Pearl Bhatnagar ’14 founded the group in 2012 in an attempt to change the conversation around sexual assault on campus and to hold Harvard administrators accountable for their role in supporting sexual assault victims, Jessica R. Fournier ’17 said.

One of the group’s main goals for the year is to improve “accommodations” for students who have been sexually assaulted. Fournier said accommodations include receiving extensions on assignments or rearranging housing assignments..

Goldberg said the group will be pushing Harvard to “systematically enforce the accommodations that survivors deserve and are entitled to under Title IX.”

Lack of knowledge about accommodations can be a big issue for students, Fournier said.

“This is a huge barrier and a huge problem,” she said.

The federal government launched an investigation into the College’s compliance with anti-sex discrimination law Title IX in 2014. Last year, a recent graduate of the College sued Harvard in federal court, arguing that the University responded to her sexual assault complaint with “deliberate indifference.”

Both the federal investigation and the lawsuit are ongoing.

—Staff writer Margot D. Dionne can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MargotDionne.

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Student GroupsStudent LifeCollege LifeMental HealthGender and SexualityTitle IXODRMia Karvonides