Sexual assault petition gains traction on campus

Meghan Klinefelter|Staff Photographer
Students walk on the Fisher Skywalk; a number of DU students signed the petition.
Meghan Klinefelter|Staff Photographer
Students walk on the Fisher Skywalk; a number of DU students signed the petition.

Josiah Martin | Asst. A&E Editor


The campus organization Students Against Sexual Violence (SASV) has composed a petition to change Duquesne’s policy regarding sexual assault, making it an expellable offense.

Duquesne does not hold an official stance on the matter. SASV wants the university’s position clarified.

“The goal is to change the policy that is in place right now, which is pretty vague,” said Emily France, a junior information systems management student and president of SASV. “It doesn’t state anywhere that if one is found guilty of sexual assault, they have to be expelled. That is what we want to change.”

France sees this issue as a matter of campus safety.

“We don’t want any perpetrators to walk free, especially since they are a harm to other students on this campus,” France said.

If instituted, this policy change may be unprecedented, as France said that she is not aware of any other schools that institute a zero-tolerance policy along the lines of what SASV is calling for. Nonetheless, France found the student body supportive of the petition overall.

“Though I was asked a lot of questions, no one was unwilling to sign the petition,” France said. “We’ve been collecting signatures for about a month … I would say we have close to 500.”

France had been met with some skepticism regarding the validity of SASV’s complaints, saying that there is no issue with campus administration’s handling of sexual assault cases.

“One person gave the argument that administration already does everything they can to help with victims of sexual assault, and they expel students who commit sexual violence,” said France.

France disagreed, based on interactions with victims who have dealt with the Title IX office in the past. She said that they have felt that the office just “goes through the motions.”

The next step is to present the petition to the university. It will first be presented to Douglas Frizzell, vice president for Student Life. Frizzell declined request for comment, as he has yet to receive the petition. However, he has spoken to members SASV regarding the matter.

“We have met with Frizzell, and he was supportive of our efforts, but it is difficult to say how the rest of administration will perceive it,” France said.

After presenting the petition to Frizzell, France says that “he will share it with the rest of the administration.”

France could not be reached to clarify whether the petition applies to cases of sexual violence in general or specifically to cases of sexual assault.

According to the University of California, Davis Campus, sexual assault is non-consensual physical sexual activity. Sexual violence is an umbrella term that includes the latter, as well as more specific cases of “rape, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.”

After this petition is settled, France says that SASV’s next project will be “getting more therapists in the Wellness Center, as well as a group to discuss issues centered around sexual assault.”