The University of Cincinnati responded to Students for Survivors’ (SFS) demands Monday in a letter from Bleuzette Marshall, UC’s vice president of equity and reform.
Among the original demands made by the group on Nov. 22 were an update on a $12,400 grant from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office awarded to the office of Public Safety to expand support services for survivors, a public address of the current state of UC’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and university efforts to hire a full-time Title IX coordinator and enforce a comprehensive consent curriculum.
Originally, the grant was to be used to create an on-campus location for sexual assault medical examination, according to a January press release from the university.
However, the university decided it would be a duplicative effort due to several local hospitals that offer a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, according to the response.
Therefore, the attorney general’s office agreed the funds could be repurposed by the Division of Student Affairs to support the Women Helping Women campus advocate program.
Women Helping Women is a gender-based advocacy group partnered with UC.
“Specifically, the funds were used to pay for on-campus advocate services until the memorandum of understanding to establish the campus advocate position was finalized,” read the letter.
The letter also responded to SFS’s demand to hire a new full-time Title IX coordinator by stating that the university is currently in the midst of a search and will fill that position relatively soon.
The Title IX office has hired two new investigators and two program coordinators to provide prevention education and coordinate interim measures, according to the letter.
The university did not, however, fully address the demand for CAPS reform.
While the response claims that CAPS continues to serve as a confidential reporting resource for students, and mentions the ARISE program dedicated to sexual assault survivors, the response did not directly respond to the group’s demand to revoke session limits for students and open the ARISE program to survivors whose assault had occurred before becoming students at the university.
The group also said that Vice President of Student Affairs Debra Merchant claimed in a meeting that CAPS is a temporary resource, which the university does not advertise anywhere.
The group demanded that UC be more transparent about this. The university did not directly address this in its response.
“UC either needs to stop advertising CAPS as this huge and amazing resource or they need to put the funds into it necessary for supporting all of us,” said fourth-year finance student Jennifer Schoewe, a member of SFS.
Shoewe said she was assaulted Welcome Weekend of 2015, at the start of her junior year.
“My story is one of the examples in there when [the petition] talks about UC failing to suspend the accused before the university hearing,” said Schoewe. “That's illegal.”
Shoewe refers to the group’s demand that UC’s Title IX office uphold the services of Title IX required by law, and a list of examples given from when it didn’t.
The university responded to the call for comprehensive consent education by emphasizing UC’s “think about it” program, a short online instructional seminar that all news employees and students must take. Schoewe said this is not good enough.
If UC claims they have consent education for students, it needs to be mandatory for all incoming freshmen every year and it needs to be in person, according to Schoewe.
“We need a UC administration who cares more about students' safety than their job security or money,” said Schoewe. “We need resources after being assaulted. We need to know where to go. We need to be supported if we report because so few of us do. Which means our rapist needs to be interim suspended like the law says until they hold a hearing to determine his guilt. And we need a loud administration who actively fights against [sexual assault]. And lots and lots of education.”
The full list of demands and the University’s response letter can be found at http://www.studentsforsurvivors.com/the-demands.html.