During the MSSA meeting held in the Nickerson conference room Wednesday afternoon, sophomore John Neitge presented two issues of concern to the senate: sexual assault is being overlooked and the vegan menu needs expansion. Since Police Officer Wilkins did not show up to the meeting to respond to the sexual assault matters, Neitge still presented rhetorical questions for the MSSA so they could work together to evoke awareness of negligence.
“Why are general star ID alerts that may take the privacy of the survivors not sent out to the students in event of a reported sexual assault, such as the one that happened on Sept. 11?” Neitge asked.
As he researched for his answers, they had varied but the general consensus was because the suspect in question was removed from campus. He expressed his confusion in the fact that students have received numerous star ID’s announcing a robbery but the suspect has been apprehended.
“Why do we still receive those alerts but not receive the same alerts when sexual assaults happen on campus that are reported?” he asked, in reference to the same comment Sabrina had made earlier in the meeting, in which he felt the university needed more consistency. “Just notifying people that [sexual assault] happened and that the suspect has been apprehended would ease a lot of tension and relieve a lot of students’ stress about certain events, especially when we find out about them from the local news and not the actual college in and of itself.”
Last month, the university required students to take a Consent and Respect course, as it is now federally mandated, and warned the students that their courses would be dropped if they had not taken it by Sept. 1. But after Neitge had talked to a couple students who had ignored the mandate, they had told him they had not received the penalties as promised.
Neitge expressed his curiosity as to how many students actually completed the course and who did not. “What is the point of having that penalty and then not enforcing it?” he asked.
Neitge instead focused on how they affected the students. With that, he also questioned how effective the course actually is on lowering the sexual assaults on campus, especially since at the time the university had required students to take the course. Neitge added that he knew of students who clicked through the course without paying attention to the details. “There is no engagement on a personal level,” he stated.
He also gave his opinion that the course should have been more relatable, especially to men who were sexual assault survivors or the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. He ended his discussion saying he believed the MSSA could explore more effective alternatives.
The second question Neitge posed was what the university could do to support sexual assault survivors. “We like to talk about what we’re doing, not what more we could do,” he added. “Because there are a lot of services that the university doesn’t offer and that’s troublesome.”
While he is also currently composing a list of problem-solving details with a group, he asked for the MSSA’s input in case they have ideas that maybe his group did not think of. Neitge promised he would bring back once the group completed the details. Furthermore, he wondered if the university would be open to providing help through third-parties, as it would not cost the university.
“Realistically, it just allows more transparency and interactions with agencies in town,” Neitge pointed out.
One MSSA member inquired if Neitge and the other group members would want to unite with the senate and help tackle these kinds of issues by joining or creating a taskforce committee. Neitge said that he would, without speaking for the rest of the group.
A separate issue Neitge also addressed is perceiving a need to expand the vegan menu since the options are not as well-rounded. Like the menu might have a salad but nothing for a protein option that does not involve meat.
In other business, the MSSA reminded everyone of the upcoming Day of Dignity in Saint Paul for the Muslim Student Association to congregate and show kindness on Sept. 27.
At the end of the meeting, the Student Senate sworn in Christina Hickey as one of the new members.