Vote yes on the sexual assault prevention education referendum

The Hatchet’s editorial board is thrilled to see tangible progress on an issue that has been of utmost concern to us over the past several years – sexual violence prevention and education.


It’s a no-brainer: Students should vote yes on the referendum this week and call on GW to include mandatory prevention trainings at Colonial Inauguration.


This is a clear example of student leaders following through on promises – namely, Student Association President Nick Gumas, who included the task on his platform during his campaign a year ago, and the leaders of Students Against Sexual Assault. It took much research, campaigning and discussion to first get this bill to the SA Senate and then onto students’ ballots, and we applaud student leaders for their efforts.


GW has been doing increasingly well on the issue of sexual assault prevention over the past few years, including conducting and releasing the results of a sexual violence campus climate survey, hiring a new Title IX coordinator and establishing a task force of students and administrators to determine best practices and set campus goals.


This mandatory training would be another crucial box to check off, and would make a huge difference in ensuring that all students are educated about the resources available to them, issues of consent and how to intervene as a bystander before they even move onto campus as freshmen.


That said, we obviously wish mandatory training at CI had been in place for many years – but its arrival is still better late than never.


Moving forward, it will be crucial for student leaders to set more specific parameters for the sessions at CI. It’s fine to have the referendum be vague now, but should it pass, we’d hope to see a clear outline of what the education would look like as soon as possible, with a couple key issues emphasized.


We know that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students on this campus, for example, are 13 percentage points more likely to have experienced unwanted sexual behavior than other students. The trainings should go out of their way to cater to these students specifically, and should also avoid including gendered, heteronormative language.


Lastly, in planning for the trainings, leaders should remember that some students in the audience may have already experienced a form of sexual violence, and they should do their best to warn students that the discussions might be triggering.


Vote yes on the sexual assault prevention education referendum Wednesday or Thursday.


The Hatchet's editorial board for endorsements included opinions editor Robin Jones Kerr, contributing opinions editor Sarah Blugis, managing director Justin Peligri, sports editor Nora Princiotti, design editor Sophie McTear, copy editor Rachel Smilan-Goldstein and design assistant Samantha LaFrance.