At the UC Student Congress, hosted by the UC Student Association last August, the UCSA adopted the UConsent campaign at the urging of hundreds of students in attendance. UConsent is the University of California-wide campaign against sexual assault, which works to support a culture of consent through increased “awareness, education and advocacy for improved resources at both the campus and state levels.” Since March, the UCSA has been encouraging students to sign a petition calling on the UC administration to put its money where its mouth is and provide a $420,000 yearly budget to mandate in-person, peer-led and survivor-informed consent and bystander-intervention training to students, staff and faculty.
The petition asks UC Office of the President to allocate a minimum of $420,000 per year for this training program, which amounts to about 96 cents per person trained. Less than a dollar seems like a reasonable price to pay for decreasing the number of assaults and creating a more informed UC community. We are also calling on UCOP to designate self-identified survivors as training leaders. Lastly, we want to ensure that these trainers are being compensated for their work: The university should provide stipends and/or class credit to trainers so that students from all backgrounds can afford to do anti-sexual assault work.
Our request of $420,000 annually does not come from thin air. UCSA estimated costs for systemwide live trainings by examining the budget of Sexual Assault Facts and Education, or SAFE, an organization that already does these trainings at UC Santa Cruz. SAFE provides trainings to students about consent and bystander intervention. These trainings are survivor-informed, peer-led and conducted in person. The UCSA Board of Directors received this training at its January meeting and see it as a successful model upon which the university can expand.
We have gathered 3,695 signatures as of April 29. We will present these petitions to the UC Board of Regents and to UC President Janet Napolitano at the May regents’ meeting, almost a year after Napolitano founded the President’s Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault in June 2014 in order to recommend uniform changes on UC systemwide sexual assault policy and make the UC system a national model for combating sexual violence and sexual assault issues on every campus.
Although UCOP has already implemented a majority of the task force’s recommendations, it has yet to decide how it will implement Task Force Recommendation Three in July. If adopted by UCOP, Recommendation Three will recommend consent and bystander intervention training for all students, faculty and staff, but it states only that the task force “should also consider adding a live training component.” But since the release of the recommendation, not much has been promised on that matter.
We hope that Napolitano will support our requests. According to a September Daily Californian article, Napolitano said “she would commit to making sure that these recommendations are funded appropriately.” UCSA President Jefferson Kuoch-Seng made Napolitano and the regents aware of our requests on several occasions. Because UCOP has indicated it will be implementing Recommendation Three in July 2015, members of the UCSA will be presenting petitions before the regents meeting in July during the public comment session and will ask the regents to make the university the national model on this issue that they claim they are striving for it to be.
To truly support survivors and be the leaders they claim to be, the regents must learn from students. Students of the university, call on the regents to mandate and fully fund in-person consent and bystander-intervention training, and education for all students, faculty and staff. It is a logical, affordable and simple step toward a better university community.