The University of Tulsa’s Student Association will soon vote on the new budget for the school year which, for the first time, includes an explicit allotment for TU’s Advocacy Alliance.
“The Advocacy Alliance is an interdisciplinary, interdepartmental committee, which seeks to prevent and intervene with interpersonal violence on The University of Tulsa’s campus,” according to their webpage.
They, in tandem with other programs on TU’s campus, including TITAN (The University of Tulsa Institute of Trauma, Adversity and Injustice), seek to provide sexual violence prevention and education to students and faculty.
Because the Advocacy Alliance does not receive institutional funding, SA funding would fill critical gaps in their budget. Previously the program has mostly been funded through donations from TU’s Women’s and Gender Studies department.
The new funds would allow the Advocacy Alliance to host a speaker in spring semester and affords more funding for their Bystander Intervention training sessions.
Last week, the Advocacy Alliance hosted their first Bystander Intervention training session for the year. “I used to think TU did enough to promote awareness of sexual violence,” said student Tessa Copeland, who was in attendance, but added that “there were only about fifteen students” at the workshop. “I think it would be good in helping raise awareness and empathy if more people heard about it and wanted to attend.”
By focusing attention on these issues, Student Association has decided to take this issue on from a student perspective, although the university does have institutional funding dedicated towards sexual assault prevention.
The Campus SaVE (Sexual Violence Elimination) Act, signed into law by President Obama in March of 2013, addresses how college campuses respond to the rising rates of sexual misconduct occurring on University properties. It includes an outline for mandatory education programs required to be initiated by secondary education institutions. The education programs must be three-pronged, outlining information on bystander intervention, risk reduction and the school’s victim reporting system. Furthermore, the program must involve training both students and faculty/staff-members.
“New students and new employees must be offered primary prevention and awareness programs that promote awareness of rape, acquaintance rape, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking,” according to the American Council on Education.
Universities not in compliance with the Campus SaVE Act risk disciplinary action, including fines and a loss of eligibility for federal funding, giving them incentive to be in line with this mandate.
TU fulfills Campus SaVE requirements through Haven, a mandatory online training course for all students. Most of the institutional budget for sexual assault prevention is funneled into this program.
SA felt it necessary, however, to go further than just fulfilling these requirements to exhibit student involvement in making TU a safer place. With this allotment of money towards this program, the Student Association funds programs to ensure the safety, wellbeing, and health of all TU affiliates.