November 5, 2010

SLC holds sexual assault community forum

The Nov. 2 regular meeting of the Student Life Committee was called to order at 4 p.m. in Borzello Hall, with Professor of Theatre Elizabeth Carlin-Metz serving as the committee chair.

This meeting was meant to serve as a community forum on issues related to sexual assault, with Campus Safety Director John Schlaf in attendance and available to answer any questions posed in the forum.

Despite this, only two members of the Knox community not on the committee and who did not already regularly attend SLC meetings were in attendance: senator and Safety and Services Committee chair Justin Steele and leader of the fledgling Allies for Sexual Assault Prevention, or ASAP, Joey Firman.

Schlaf explained that there are and always should be safety concerns with regard to sexual assault.

“If it ever gets to the point that you have somebody sitting in this capacity who tries to reassure the Knox community that everything is under control,” Schlaf said, “then you need to be looking for a new Campus Safety director, because you always need to have that concern.”

Metz brought up the concern that there may not be enough women officers on the Campus Safety staff and asked Schlaf about his goals in that respect.

Schlaf explained that there is one female and Knox graduate who has a part-time position as a campus safety officer. Additionally, there are two male and two female students working as “escorts” for the Campus Safety office who will walk with students to different parts of campus.

With respect to sexual assault awareness, Schlaf referenced some past practices which did not continue for long but could be implemented again, including having a campus safety officer meet with a group of students to just “shoot the breeze” or to discuss that which is going on in the community. Schlaf also would make himself available regularly for questions.

The ensuing conversation occasionally touched on issues relating to parties and the role of Campus Safety, during which time Student Senate member and sophomore Michael Gasparro asked Schlaf about the role of Campus Safety officers on weekends. Schlaf said that they are meant to escort students across campus.

“But the reality of it is that they will not turn a blind eye…if they see something that has them concerned,” Schlaf said.

Schlaf talked about the ongoing practice of having a Campus Safety officer meet with a party’s organizers to discuss policies in place and how certain situations should be handled during the party.

“We’ve got people who will actually call now and say, ‘This party is getting out of hand. Will you have a Campus Safety officer come and help us shut this thing down? We can’t handle it,’” Schlaf said, lauding this show of responsibility.

Professor of Mathematics Dennis Schneider asked Schlaf whether the Campus Safety officers are trained to deal with victims of sexual assault, to which Schlaf answered that in most cases, a member of the Counseling Services staff will be brought into the situation.

Near the end of the meeting, Firman turned the conversation to focus on ASAP and the committee’s feelings about the organization.

Both Metz and Schneider assured Firman that ASAP has the attention and approval of SLC, and ASAP is in a good position in that respect.

The only action taken during the meeting regarded a slight Student Senate constitutional change, which passed unanimously.

Next week’s SLC meeting will involve a conversation about Greek life on campus and the idea of starting a local fraternity at Knox and how that entity will function.

Charlie Megenity
Charlie Megenity (formerly Gorney) is a senior double majoring in political science and economics. He previously served TKS as managing editor and as co-news editor while working as the weekend reporter for The Galesburg Register-Mail. Over the summer of 2012, Charlie interned in Wisconsin with Patch.com, an online hyperlocal news source, where he covered the August 2012 Oak Creek Sikh temple shooting; he will return to Patch during the summer of 2013. He is also the journalism editor for Catch magazine.. Charlie has received three awards from the Illinois College Press Association for newswriting and design, including a first place award for front page layout. He was the 2013 recipient of the Theodore Hazen Kimble Memorial Award in Journalism for a feature story published in The Knox Student. His work has also appeared in The Huffington Post.


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