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Creation of sexual-misconduct post combats an all-too prevalent problem

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | JULY 09, 2009 7:21 AM

Students now have a person in their corner fighting sexual assaults and violence on this campus. Monique DiCarlo, the former director of the Women’s Resource and Action Center, is the UI’s first sexual-misconduct-response coordinator.

The creation of this important full-time position is a step in the right direction. Her advocacy of these issues and dedication will prove vitally important as we move forward.

DiCarlo will work with the UI and Iowa City police in investigating and following proper procedure in sexual-assault cases involving the UI community. High-profile cases such as those of Pierre Pierce, Abe Satterfield, and Cedric Everson highlighted the flaws in our sexual-assault-response procedure. DiCarlo hopes to change that.

“When this position was first created, I was a part of the policy protocol for these issues,” she said. “Now, I will have a place in that protocol for the future.”

Athletes and fraternities usually get a great share of the blame for sexual crimes. However, the issue has less to do with these groups and more to do with the long-held standards and norms.

“Violence is more likely to happen when the definition of masculinity is hyper-sexual or violent,” DiCarlo said.

If the people of this community want not only change for the better, but significant force for change, groups such as the Sexual Assault Response Team and the Rape Victim Advocacy Program need our support. Standing on the sidelines and hoping for the best is no longer a viable option, not when our community is as violent and dangerous as ever.

Along with DiCarlo’s new position, the UI has made it mandatory for incoming freshmen to take an online sexual-assault-prevention course at nformd.net. Students must achieve an 80 percent score in order to register for classes. Without question, any program that makes new students aware of sexual-assault issues at college is a good thing. But DiCarlo believes, as does this Editorial Board, that significant change will not come with only one source of information or policy.

The Nformd program does have value in its engagement with the students, allowing them to be more acquainted with prevention of sexual assault. Most importantly, the program will highlight a cause DiCarlo and those around her feel strongly about: “bystander culture.”

Iowa City police have used the term to describe violence downtown. Because fighting and even sexual assaults have become so common, people are less apt to take action and are instead more likely to encourage such behavior.

“It is important for the students to know the policies and resources at their disposal.” DiCarlo said. “All of us have the obligation to intervene and stop this violence.”

True engagement with these issues requires more than lip service. Swift action is the only remedy. The citizens of Iowa City must actively participate in the process of change and peace. This includes the students of this university; we must all play a part in stopping this systemic problem across this city. The UI has botched the handling of high-profile cases in the past. We should not just remember those shameful events but hold them up as a measure of how far our devotion to sexual-assault prevention fell.

The policies and procedures that prevent and stop sexual assault should also be looked at every year, not just when they need major revising. The growing concern over the number of sexual assaults warrants a continued dialogue throughout this community.

Stopping sexual assaults requires a fixed state of awareness from this entire community. Students must remain vigilant every day to the possible scenarios that can arise. Faculty must take a proactive approach to monitoring students’ behavior. The level of dialogue has been increased on this subject, but our response to this horrific problem should exceed expectations.


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