SGA holds meeting to discuss the Survivor’s Bill of Rights

Proposed amendments for the Survivor’s Bill of Rights were discussed between the administration and SGA to enforce student safety against sexual violence on campus

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Ana Pietrewicz / Daily Collegian

On Thursday night, members of the University of Massachusetts Student Government Association organized an open meeting in the Student Union Black Box Theater to examine proposed amendments to the Survivor’s Bill of Rights after a discussion was held between the administration and SGA.

The Survivor’s Bill of Rights gained traction on campus roughly a month after allegations against the Theta Chi Fraternity surged. SGA leadership spoke about their unyielding determination to spread awareness and improve campus safety.

The SGA leadership at the meeting consisted of Hayden Latiner-Ireland, chair of the administrative affairs committee, Audrey Gabriel, secretary of sustainability, and Hewan Weldai, chair of the social justice and empowerment committee.

“As a reactionary response to all the sexual assault cases and incidents on campus, we really saw a lot of outpouring support from students,” Gabriel, a junior microbiology and public health major, said. “We started an email chain that was going around during the protests that were happening on campus. That’s really how we garnered a lot of support and got the ball rolling even further.”

Members of the SGA analyzed a 22-point list of amendments for the bill, consisting of the original amendments, and administrative revisions. The list can be viewed on this Google Spreadsheet. The spreadsheet contains financial, judicial and emotional support for survivors.

The SGA specifically emphasized their concerns over an amendment for monetary coverage. For example, amendment nine states, “If a survivor becomes impregnated due to an assault, the college or university will fund any abortive method or other emergency contraceptive methods, like ‘Plan B.’”

The administration’s alternative was, “If a survivor has pregnancy concerns due to an assault, the Center for Women and Community will provide information about rights and resources. This includes information about the Massachusetts Crime Victims Fund established by the Victims of Crime Act.” The administration stated their suggestion for amendment nine helps to clarify the legal support for survivors.

“It’s just a lack of accountability on [admin’s] part to not be willing to provide the specifics, the financial need, a speedy investigation, and other things that make survivors’ experience significantly easier,” Emmy Currier-Dougherty, a junior studio arts major, who attended the meeting said. Currier-Dougherty stated they wished to see more justice given to survivors on campus.

“There’s sort of a hard line that’s been washed away into this very vague, ‘this may happen, this may not. But we’ll try our best to direct you to the right resources,’” Weldai, junior biology major, said. “But that’s not enough.”

“This is something that students really care about and will show up for. And I think it’s important that it is continually emphasized in these conversations. It’s not just myself, it’s not just [Gabriel], it’s not just [Weldai]. The student body wants this,” Latiner-Ireland, senior political science major, said.

The SGA encourages student feedback on the amendments via a Google Form.

Liesel Nygard can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @LieselNygard. Caitlin Reardon can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @caitlinjreardon. Jadine Reis can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @jadine_reis.