BERKELEY (KCBS)— California’s public universities will begin a new academic year in a matter of weeks, with a new focus on campus-related sexual assaults; how to prevent them and how to respond to them. One University of California, Berkeley student is closely involved in the UC process for improving this aspect of campus safety.
A victim of campus sexual assault herself, Cal student Meghan Warner is the chair of the Sexual Assault Commission for the UC Student Body Association and is a peer educator at the campus Gender Equity Resource Center.
Like so many other victims, Meghan chose not to report her assault. She says one reason was the lack of a clear and supportive system on campus to do so.
“The university should have made it very clear how to report,” Warner said. “I shouldn’t have had to attempt to find it. When I found a website, it had a graph and link about what to do if you’re accused. But there was no, ‘here is where you go to report,’ and there are eight different offices involved and it’s very complicated.”
Warner said she’s hopeful the commitment from UC Regents to address this will include more funding and education and not just to respond to reports of sexual assaults, but to prevent more of them in the first place. She’s convinced mandatory training for students, faculty and staff, about what constitutes sexual consent is a big part of the answer.
“When I do workshops in the fraternities for example; they think they know what consent is and they think of course, no one in this fraternity would ever sexually assault anyone. Obviously I don’t say this to them, but I know that there are perpetrators in this room. It’s usually the students that don’t go [to trainings] that need to go.”
Warner added that a criminal investigation by law enforcement should not take the place of an investigation by the university even though many push for the police to handle these types of investigations.
“Title IX exists. We can’t’ just be like, ‘Oh well, never mind we think it should go to the police.’ When you become a student on campus, you’re agreeing to uphold a certain standard. What the university can punish, the police sometimes can’t.”