Chancellor Ronnie Green detailed steps the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will take at the first official Association of Students of the University of Nebraska meeting of the academic year Wednesday night following weeklong protests regarding on-campus sexual assault.
Green delivered prepared remarks, outlining immediate steps the university will work on to help prevent assaults from occurring in the future.
“I hate sexual assault, period,” Green said. “Because I know someone is in pain and has been traumatized, and my heart aches ... for that to happen to anybody, at any time, anywhere, but especially when it’s here on our campus and here in our community.”
The university will double the number of Center for Advocacy, Response and Education advocates from two to four. He also said there will be greater administrative support..
Neihardt Hall will also be repurposed — following its closure in 2018 — with more accessible facilities for CARE, the Women’s Center and LGBTQA+ Center “as soon as we can,” Green said, hopefully by the end of the year.
“This will give us an opportunity to have greater focus, to have greater resources and be able to give a more accessible location centrally for our students and the services,” Green said.
The university will also hire a director of education on sexual assault that will be part of the Neihardt repurposing and renew a partnership with Voices of Hope, an off-campus resource that provides support for sexual assault survivors and their families, which the university cut ties with in 2018, Green said.
The university will also commit to looking at more mental health resources and support.
Green said the university is committed to a thorough and confidential process with regard to investigations into alleged sexual assaults at the Phi Gamma Delta and Sigma Chi fraternities, as dictated by the Student Code of Conduct.
“When we are able to share the details of those results, of those processes, I assure you we will do so and we will do so expeditiously,” he said.
Green acknowledged flaws in UNL’s sexual misconduct training implemented in the spring. He said he’s heard “loud and clear” from students that it was insufficient. Students, including ASUN senators, questioned the tone of the training and the lack of respect for survivors. He said a new training will be live, run by peer mentors and be “truly mandatory.”
According to Green, 51% of undergraduate students, 58% of graduate and professional students and 76% of faculty and staff completed the training, which was intended to be taken by the entire university.
“We know we have to have mechanisms for that to be 100% and that it be in place at the right time as our community comes together,” Green said.
A new and revised sexual assault training program will be implemented before New Student Enrollment next fall “for us to move forward as a community,” he said.
As outlined in a report from UNL’s Collaborative on Sexual Misconduct last October, Green said administrators will work with the Faculty Senate to include a statement and further education on sexual misconduct in course syllabi.
“These actions I’ve outlined tonight are just the first steps based on what I've heard from students, as well as from faculty and staff,” Green said. “We are committed to doing more and having an ongoing dialogue with our students across the campus.”
When answering questions from a senator regarding recent protests, Green said he was proud of students for using their voices to enact change. He said change requires everyone, and it will require more than just university administration.
“I know it's been a tough week. It’s tough discussions that are occurring, and I know what’s occurring here is occurring in a lot of places currently,” Green said. “Use your voice. Use it productively. Use it in ways that make a difference and move us forward. Use that voice in a really, really, really positive way.”
Green said he knows action is needed and the university is committed to enacting just that. He said anyone who wishes to reach out to him can do so through firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I fully appreciate that you want action more than listening,” Green said. “I can assure you that we are committed to doing that, to changing the culture and to moving forward. It will require all of us to make that happen.”
ASUN also added two pieces of emergency legislation, both of which passed.
ASUN will create an emergency fund for survivors of sexual assault on campus. The bill says ASUN will search for funding through campus and community actors and will be the first contributor to the fund, allocating $500.
Senators will also create a committee to explore policies related to funding an emergency fund for UNL students. The bill says the committee and the fund’s structure will be finalized by Oct. 1.
Chief of Staff Cameron Collier, author of the bill, said he was pleased to see senate-wide support for the fund.
“We want to listen to [students] and we want to act for those students in their best interest and I think it’s really impactful that it passed unanimously,” he said.
ASUN will host a “butterfly box” in its office throughout September in which students can leave messages of support for sexual assault survivors. The box is being created by the Xi Chapter of Sigma Psi Zeta Sorority, Inc. prior to the semi-annual “Take Back the Night” candle vigil in support of sexual assault survivors in October, according to the bill.
ASUN also appointed Aiah Nour and Jayven Brandt to the Appointments Board. Lauren Kruger was appointed as one of the Freshman Campus Leader Associate co-directors and tabled the appointment of the other co-director until next week.
Sens. Alec Miller and Bhagya Pushkaran were elected to serve on the FCLA Appointments Board. They will be responsible in deciding which freshman join FCLA.
The next ASUN senate meeting will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 8, at 6:30 p.m.