2013 adjustments to Code of Student Conduct worth publicizingBy Noah Cannon | 04/14/2014 11:00pm
While scrolling through Twitter on Monday, I was surprised to learn from a friend’s tweet that the UA Code of Student Conduct was significantly updated in 2013. The somewhat belated news was included in this week’s edition of Dialog, the UA faculty and staff newsletter. Students, it seems, would be decidedly unlikely to know about the updates to the Code of Student Conduct unless one is an avid reader of Dialog or unless, in my case, one stumbles upon the news on Twitter.
I’m disheartened that this news wasn’t communicated to students effectively, especially considering the important nature of the updates. The updated code contains more nuanced wording regarding hazing, harassment and sexual misconduct, among other issues. Specifically regarding sexual consent, the updated code contains impressively clear and precise language.
“Consent to a sexual act is not freely given if there is no clear verbal consent given, if the individual is not able to give proper consent, or if consent is obtained by force, threats, deception, or coercion. A lack of resistance does not grant consent. Previous consent does not grant consent to future sexual acts.”
This is necessary, life-saving information that needs to be disseminated far beyond a quiet update to the code of student conduct. I applaud the Office of Student Conduct for including this information, but I confess myself disappointed in the University’s overall hush-hush attitude where sexual harassment and consent are concerned. This kind of education needs to happen at every level on and off campus with the vocal administrative support needed to ensure its effectiveness.
Steps forward are being made, to be sure. Recently, the UAct web page provided clear, specific information about reporting channels for discrimination and sexual violence. The page launched quietly, however, and its origin is somewhat ambiguous. While UAct is certainly a valuable resource, it still lacks a proactive, educational element to prevent sexual harassment rather than report it after the fact.
I urge high-level UA administrators to end the trend of addressing sexual violence quietly and instead talk about the issue openly and without mincing words. Education on consent and sexual harassment needs to happen before students set foot on campus, similar to the way AlcoholEdu functions. Students are already talking about sexual violence and the need for more resources and support on our campus. We now need administration to join the conversation.
Noah Cannon is a junior majoring in telecommunication and film. His column runs biweekly.