CSG talks draft policy on sexual assault

Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - 11:09pm

Holly Rider, director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, discusses the proposed changes to sexual assault policies at the University at the Central Student Government meeting in the Michigan Union on Tuesday.

Holly Rider, director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, discusses the proposed changes to sexual assault policies at the University at the Central Student Government meeting in the Michigan Union on Tuesday. Buy this photo
Zoey Holmstrom/ Daily

 

Holly Rider-Milkovich, director of the Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Center, joined Central Student Government on Tuesday to outline proposed revisions to the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Rider-Milkovich, who helped draft the policy revisions, said proposed changes include definitions of terms such as force and coercion and changes to the ways witnesses are identified in reports.

Rider-Milkovich said potential changes were based on data collected from the results of the University’s campus climate survey, which was released earlier this summer. She said the report provided a starting point for determining the efficacy of current policies.

“We now how have, for the first time, University-specific information on unreported as well as reported behavior of sexual misconduct,” Rider-Milkovich said. “We now have a baseline which we could use going forward whether our activities taken as a whole have moved the needle on this unbelievably heartbreaking issue.”

Rider-Milkovich said SAPAC aims to increase the number of students reporting sexual misconduct by strengthening student confidence in SAPAC and improving its policies.

One change the University is considering is how witnesses are identified in ongoing investigations.

Currently, witnesses are identified as numbers in reports and documentation. The amendment to name each witness aims to increase due process and transparency so the accused can provide proper counter evidence.

Still, Rider-Milkovich said the policy could also have negative consequences.

“We also have contemplated the potential chilling effect of including the names of witnesses,” Rider-Milkovich said. “It could mean that fewer witnesses are willing to be witnesses, and that that could mean that we have less meaningful investigations.”

An amendment was also proposed to clarify witness’ obligation to provide truthful information. Witnesses are subject to disciplinary action if they knowingly provide false information under the statement.

“This is an articulation which is already the case,” Rider-Milkovich said.

The draft policy also adds definitions and conditions.

Rider-Milkovich said the behavioral goals of SAPAC are different than their definition of consent, which she said is in line with the University policy.

“I’m not going to relinquish that we do have better goals,” Rider-Milkovich said. “The threshold (for consent) is clear and and unambiguous agreement expressed in mutually understandable words of actions to engage in an activity.”

Rider-Milkovich said the hope for all students is that consent is sober and enthusiastic.

In evaluating whether consent is confirmed, amendments regarding incapacitation aim to clarify whether the respondent knew or reasonably should have known the person was incapable of giving consent.

Rider-Milkovich said there have been no proposals to change the definition of consent, but definitions for incapacitation, coercion and force would been clarified.

She said these improved definitions will allow students to clearly understand what behavior violates the statement.

In the policy, incapacitation is defined as deriving from more than just alcohol intake.

The University intends to enact a revised policy by winter semester, and the University plans to seek input on the draft policy during several roundtable discussions scheduled in the coming weeks.

BAMN resolution

The group By Any Means Necessary discussed a resolution on Tuesday calling on University President Mark Schlissel to make the University a sanctuary campus, which means the University would not use its resources to help the federal government enforce immigration laws.

The resolution was officially proposed by Rackham student Lamin Manneh, a Rackham student representative.

Manneh said the resolution is relevant given a recent proposal in state legislature to defund sanctuary cities like Ann Arbor and Detroit. The resolution calls on Schlissel and the Board of Regents to issue a declaration of support on behalf of those cities, as well as asks the University to provide free legal services to undocumented students through a sanctuary student center.

“These are people who usually have parents that have come here illegally, but they have grown up here, and many times their parents pay taxes,” Manneh said. “Now they’re in college with us.”

Manneh said higher education is a path for undocumented students to become full-fledged citizens.

“This is about the fact that we have a certain number of students on our campus and because of the ways laws are set up, they have certain barriers to become full citizens,” Manneh said. “One of these barriers is higher education.”

Additional questions were raised about how the University would fund a sanctuary student center and whether the proposals have been discussed with Schlissel and the University’s Board of Regents.

Dining hall pilot program funded

CSG also passed a resolution to fund the dining hall game day pilot program. The program aims to open dining halls early in an effort to curb the impacts of risky drinking behavior on game days. CSG voted to allocate $10,000 from the Legislative Discretionary fund and $5,000 from the Executive Discretionary fund for the program.

CSG treasurer Kevin Ziegler, an LSA senior, drafted the proposal.

Ziegler said CSG hopes to assist Michigan Dining with covering the cost of food consumed by students during the early hours and the cost of labor for opening the dining halls early.

Ziegler said Dining director Steve Mangan said in a meeting that the dining halls are supportive of the program.

“They want to help out in any way and serve the students,” Ziegler said. “That’s what they’re here for, to help the University in any capacity possible.”

Costs for early dining vary between game days depending the kick off time. Noon game days cost more than 3:30 p.m. games because they require dining halls to open even earlier.