Christa Kelly, Staff Writer
A resolution that the Augsburg student government passed last year that would have reformed the school’s sexual assault policy was rejected last week by the administration. The resolution was written by Cody Thompson, a senator from last year’s Day Student Government coalition who is no longer involved with student government.
The resolutions emerged parallel to the #MeToo movement, the rejected resolution would have reformed disciplinary action faced by students who were deemed “responsible” of sexual assault. This rejection comes after the proposals came forward with the support and cooperation of 12 sexual assault survivors who attended Augsburg at the time of the proposed change.
One resolution was accepted by the administration: that affirms support for survivors and suggested expanding services available to them. Organizations such as the Aurora Center on the University of Minnesota campus were named as examples of resources to expand. In addition, the resolution asked for trauma-specific training for counselors on the Center for Wellness and Counseling and that Augsburg faculty and staff be trained in how to respond to sexual violence. While it was supported by the administration in the Student Government meeting last Wednesday, it is unclear how that resolution will manifest itself going forward.
The second part of the resolution would have changed the policy to “Students found responsible of violating Augsburg University’s sexual misconduct policy will be expelled from the University and banned from campus.” The current policy involves multiple hearings with the dean of students and an administrative decision on if a punishment is administered and to what extent. After asking for a delay to further research the proposal in a 2018 meeting in February, Vice President of Student Affairs Ann Garvey reported at the Oct. 10 student government meeting that the administration would not be adopting that language due to research suggesting such a change would discourage victims from coming forward. Garvey added that the research was presented by Katie Eichele, Director of the Aurora Center.
In addition, Garvey expanded on the decision making process to not adopt the resolution, “With support from President Pribbenow, we contracted with Project IX for a review of our policies and procedures and received their final report on Oct. 1. The two consultants informed us, similarly, that one sanction for any violation would negatively impact people coming forward. As well, doing so violates current Department of Education rules and would jeopardize Augsburg’s ability to accept federal funds, including federal student loans.”
Eli Baker, vice president of the student body, defended the administration’s decision, saying that it had been rejected for “valid reasons.” Other members of the Student Government could not be reached for comment.
This article was originally published in the Oct. 19, 2018 issue.