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UC Berkeley students must be properly educated on sexual violence and sexual harassment

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FEBRUARY 19, 2019

Content warning: Sexual violence

Earlier this month, an anonymous Facebook post on the Confessions from UC Berkeley page sparked a campuswide conversation about sexual violence within the tech community. And while the efforts clubs are making to raise awareness about this issue are promising, they also point to an appalling truth: how little students know about addressing and responding to sexual violence.

Although the name of the club in the original Facebook post was redacted, CodeBase later came forward in the comments section of the post and said it “will take full responsibility” for the incident. It’s admirable that, at a time when many institutions fail to hold themselves accountable for incidents of sexual violence and sexual harassment, or SVSH, CodeBase “committed to finding the individual responsible.”

That said, the organization’s next steps showed the lack of survivor-centric training and education on campus.

The night the original Facebook post was published, members of CodeBase attempted to file a police report with the Berkeley Police Department regarding the incident — an action that completely neglects survivors’ wishes. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, nearly 68 percent of survivors choose not to report for a variety of reasons, including fear of retaliation and concerns that they won’t be believed. It’s disturbing that organizations think, no matter how good their intentions, that they have the right to report an assault on behalf of the survivor without their consent.

These should all serve as red flags to the campus administration that organizations are not properly educated on how to respond to SVSH.

It’s unacceptable that only two members from an entire club are required to attend a training session that includes SVSH education. Many campus organizations have hundreds of members, and yet only a tiny percentage of them have actually received LEAD Center-sponsored SVSH training. This is detrimental to a campus where more than 1,200 clubs are central to students’ social lives

Comprehensive SVSH training can’t be neglected, and it’s on the LEAD Center to ensure that students are properly educated on this important issue. Adequate training on sexual violence is key to harassment prevention within clubs. The LEAD Center must increase its resources to ensure trained individuals lead consent talks and workshops within clubs for all members.

With proper training, campus organizations must then work to create an inclusive culture that centers the needs of survivors. The victim-blaming in response to the anonymous Facebook post embodies the stigma and shame that prevent survivors from reporting in the first place. Leaders must address this toxic trend by putting the needs of survivors first and creating a space that upholds the respect and dignity of all club members.

The LEAD Center must properly educate students on SVSH prevention and response. Not to do so literally threatens students’ safety and livelihood. We can’t afford to wait any longer.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.

FEBRUARY 19, 2019