The Sexual Assault Task Force, which was established in 2014, is now a permanent annual committee. The Office of the Provost formed the Sexual Assault Task Force in order to prevent and combat sexual misconduct at USC. The force took many measures to work towards its goals; it created the Sexual Assault Resource Center website, relocated Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention and Services to the health center and promoted bystander education.
Dr. Ainsley Carry, Vice President for Student Affairs at USC, elaborated on this vital step the committee has taken.
“We are doubling down on efforts to prevent sexual misconduct via education,” he said. “Every year the committee evaluates what is in place and how it is working. When there are opportunities to make improvements, we will advance those as we have over the past two years. Until we have zero incidents of sexual misconduct, there is always work for the committee to consider.”
Megan Andersen, a freshman majoring in biochemistry, expressed her gratitude for this vital step the university has taken.
“As much as I think it’s great that sexual violence is an issue that keeps getting more attention, just talking about it is not enough,” she said. “There need to be tangible resources for people that have experienced or are concerned about sexual violence, something that a permanent task force will be able to improve for the Trojan community. We need a task force that is visible so that it is clear that there is help for anyone who needs it.”
The 2015-2016 committee made many recommendations to further improve the safety of USC. These improvements have either already been or are currently being implemented. The force noticed that the USC’s sexual misconduct policy was difficult to locate in the Student Handbook, so they rewrote and published it as a standalone document.
It also gained data that students are often confused in understanding affirmative consent, so the new Policy and Procedure on Student Sexual, Interpersonal and Protected Class Misconduct clarifies this necessary principle. Furthermore, a new subcommittee will work toward increasing awareness about consent this semester.
In addition, the force noticed that there are multiple student-led campaigns focused on topics including bystander intervention and sexual assault, but they might be stronger together. Therefore, it recommended a single unit that will likely be more effective in raising awareness. In order to ensure that students feel as safe as possible, the force made a LifeSafe App recommendation, which states that there should be the addition of locations and contact information for University resource centers.
Zaynab Zia, a freshman majoring in business administration, shared her insights about the importance of the task force in the context of the nation as a whole.
“With so many cases of sexual assault throughout the country, I believe it is very important to establish a permanent sexual assault combat team,” she said “The University is not only protecting us Trojans, but also setting a perfect example for other universities across the nation.”
Participation is open to students, who can become members of a variety of different subcommittees. Each subcommittee will have a mandatory training on Sept. 30 from 2-4 p.m. in the Trojan Conference Room of the health center.