As students attending UNH, we are very fortunate. We’re fortunate to be surrounded by a beautiful campus, eat food provided by an award-winning dining program and support nationally-ranked athletic teams. More importantly, we are fortunate to attend a university that is making strides to more effectively protect its students in multiple capacities, including from the threat of sexual violence.
In many ways, UNH has been at the forefront of the efforts to reduce sexual violence on campus, at a time when several colleges and universities around the country are being criticized for how they have handled such cases.
The university’s Sexual Harassment & Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP), along with other university-sponsored organizations, offers countless resources to help victims of sexual violence and their allies in the UNH community. These programs also regularly promote awareness about related issues.
Student Senate has been successful in its efforts to reform the university’s Conduct System, which includes how cases that fall under Title IX are handled at UNH. The recent reforms will make the process of reporting crimes related to sexual violence and harassment easier for victims in the UNH community.
According to Foster’s Daily Democrat, President Obama has even commended UNH’s efforts in this area, praising its “Bringing In the Bystander” program, an initiative sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts (COLA) that teaches bystanders how to intervene if they witness a situation involving sexual violence. However, just as with any other element of student life at this university, there is room for improvement.
On page 16 of this issue is a Letter to the Editor written by New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. The senators advocate the implementation of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, a bill that if passed, would mandate every college and university in the country to participate in administering a survey to its students about the sexual assault climate at their school.
The results of the survey would then be made public, so prospective students and their parents could access the information while making their college decision. After reading the letter, the staff of The New Hampshire agrees with Senators Ayotte and Gillibrand that all facilities of higher education, including UNH, should be more transparent about incidents of sexual violence on campus, especially toward prospective students and their families.
Because UNH has made so many reforms in this area of public safety, we at The New Hampshire believe it is a crucial asset that makes our university unique and should be promoted as such.
On the UNH Undergraduate Admissions website, any student considering attending the university can access fast facts regarding student population, degree programs offered, as well as a plethora of other topics; statistics about sexual violence should be included in this information.
If our university has so many resources designed to prevent and effectively respond to sexual violence around campus, the policies proposed in the Campus Accountability and Safety Act would only serve to promote those resources to potential students and their families.
A progressive university such as UNH should not only promote their resources available to students. UNH should use these strong outlets to educate all students about previous violence on campus to ensure proper education of the community as a whole. Knowledge is power, knowledge is safety.