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​Lackluster response to CTIS discouraging

By Thresher Editorial Board     8/23/16 11:49pm

When the Survey of Unwanted Sexual Ex-periences proved that, much like other college campuses, sexual misconduct and assault are prevalent at Rice, many in the student body rallied around the cause and proposed change in the form of a mandatory Critical Thinking in Sexuality Class for new students. However, the administration’s response and support for this course has been lagging — and this delay could have dire consequences for the incoming class. Though the class was controversial, the fact that so many students felt compelled to respond is in itself impressive. It also indicates that a large portion of the student body is aware that sexual misconduct is a pressing issue and are actively working to create a safer Rice community.

Given the buzz around CTIS, it is concerning that the administration has not updated the en-tire student body regarding the course’s status. It was not until returning this fall that students even learned the course will not be off ered this semester as planned last spring. The student body proposed and approved the creation of the CTIS course with a huge sense of urgency, to reduce the amount of harm to future Owls as much as possible, yet the course in its envi-sioned mandatory state has been delayed to at least fall 2018 without much warning.

Other aspects of the treatment of sexual mis-conduct remain lacking. For instance, sexual assault prevention training during Orientation Week needs to include more focus about the specifi c environment in which sexual miscon-duct occurs at Rice. This year at Project SAFE, there was no mention of the SUSE.

While O-Week is a balancing act between providing new students with information they need to remain safe while also not off ending sensibilities, it is irresponsible to gloss over sex-ual misconduct statistics that indicate the scale and context behind this important issue. Even EMS includes in their O-Week presentation the number of students bitten by squirrels each year, if only to ensure awareness of the prob-lem. The SUSE should become an annual occur-rence, instead of once every two or three years as Dean Hutchinson plans. His concern that an annual survey might cause “survey fatigue” is not unfounded. Nonetheless, if the administra-tion wants students to be surveyed annually about Fondren Library’s resources, then surely making it a priority to annually ask students if they’ve experienced sexual misconduct is not unreasonable. Furthermore, the questions should be more detailed in order to capture the wide range of experiences students may have.

Our university still has much room for im-provement when it comes to sexual assault awareness and prevention. O-Week and the SUSE are intuitive places to start, but the future of CTIS remains critical. We understand that creating a course takes time and a great deal of logistical planning, but for every semester or year we delay the implementation of any sort of sexuality education or other tangible steps in addressing sexual misconduct, we are faced with the prospect of one more class of Rice stu-dents just as vulnerable as the class that walked through the Sallyport in the years before.

Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial staff . All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of the piece’s author.

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