Dear Knox Community,
Due to the continued and well-documented failings of the current administration to adequately address sexual assault and Title IX on campus, students have recently formed a list of demands detailing specific and feasible steps for the administration to take to remedy this problem. The demands were informed by sexual assault victims/survivors, allies and Title IX organizations. The intent was to hold an open forum for the entire campus, to allow students to express their grievances with these issues and to discuss the demands in a productive conversation.
This past Monday, Rachael Morrissey, Erica Witzig, Lexi Toney, Savannah Trent, Ransom Smith, and Jon Glazer met with Laura Behling, Laura Schnack, Kim Schrader, and Deb Southern to insist on having an open forum that would give students a safe space to speak out, hold the administrators accountable and demand timely change. However, the Knox administration informed the students that they were not interested in holding such a forum anytime soon, expressing their opinion that forums are ineffective and that they are already aware of student opinions on such matters. Their response is extremely disingenuous, as they are currently holding two upcoming forums to elect Knox’s new CFO. Furthermore, their assertion that survivors’ voices are already heard enough on campus is deeply problematic, as survivors’ needs consistently go unmet and survivors themselves continually express feeling silenced.
As members of Students Against Sexism in Society, we are writing to voice our support for the student demands that were recently brought to the above mentioned administrators yesterday, May 18. We agree with them that a space should be made for administrators to hear student concerns. As an active group that has held events about sexual assault and rape culture at Knox, we know that the campus has demonstrated a significant need for better communication between administrators and students—an open forum with students and administrators regarding Title IX would be a crucial opportunity to address this issue. SASS is not the only group on campus that should have a voice on these issues. Title IX and sexual assault policy apply to all students, so all students should be provided with the opportunity to give their feedback. It is absolutely essential that the administration does not silence student voices on this issue. Some students may feel unsafe speaking at a public forum, but that does not mean that the opportunity to speak about their experiences should be denied to all students across the board by not having a forum at all.
Since the Sexual Assault Resource Reform Committee (SARRC) and the Task Force for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response stopped meeting, the student body has had virtually no idea how the administration intends to hear student feedback or accept our input. We recognize that improvements have been made since the previous academic year, but we still believe that an open forum is needed to better the school’s policy. We know the students that met with the administration on Monday, May 18 asked for an answer by May 20, and we ask that the administration promptly respond to both these students as well as us with a response. We believe that is enough time to make a decision, since the idea of an open forum has been extensively discussed during this ongoing campaign as well as during SARRC and the Task Force. Students are aware of the incredible lack of communication that has been visible since the appointment of our current Title IX Coordinator. Administration, please prove to students that you have a vested interest in our voices and our concerns. Do not continue the pattern of silencing that we have seen in the past.
SASS Exec in conjunction with the concerned students