This week, the Office of Civil Rights will host focus groups at Morgan Hall for sexual harassment and assault.
The groups, which are divided on the basis of students’ genders, class level and participation in athletics, will allow students to meet in a group as well as individually to discuss any concerns about the topics at hand. OCR will collect statistics, but not ask for personal experiences.
These focus groups come in light of a Title IX review of Temple’s policies concerning sexual violence. In May, Temple was named one of 55 universities under investigation by the Department of Education for a possible violation in how it handles sexual assault and harassment cases.
On Oct. 3, President Theobald emailed the student body about the new Presidential Committee on Campus Sexual Misconduct, a board designed to use the concerns of students to address problems in its policies.
While it’s reassuring that Temple is taking action to combat the concerning possibility that it’s mishandling these extremely important cases, neither the focus groups nor the new misconduct board can have much of an impact without student participation.
If students do not attend these focus groups or participate in the climate survey that the misconduct committee distributed to some students, Temple’s policies cannot significantly change in a way that will help the student body.
Students who didn’t receive the survey or who are unable to attend the focus groups can still participate by talking to TSG about their concerns. TSG has several members in the new committee.
If students remain silent or disinterested, Temple will remain in the dark about how it can improve its policies.
Though sharing thoughts on such a sensitive topic can be challenging, both the focus groups and the survey will keep identities safe, hopefully encouraging more students to come forward.
According to a CDC survey, one in five women will be sexually assaulted while they are in college. The university is right to want to strengthen its policies to protect victims of sexual violence. But it can’t do so successfully without hearing the voices of its students.
CORRECTION: The original headline for this editorial, which appeared in print, was “Speak out for sexual assault.” The headline has since been changed to “Speak out about sexual assault” to clarify its meaning.