University of Cincinnati students hold sit-in to demand changes to sexual assault policies

Posted at 7:12 PM, Dec 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-08 19:12:52-05

CINCINNATI -- University of Cincinnati students are calling for better support for those who have been sexually assaulted.

Grace Cunningham and other UC students formed an advocacy and support group, Students For Survivors, which is demanding change from the university. They say UC's current programs are underfunded, understaffed and not comprehensive.

There were 18 reported forcible sexual offenses in the campus area and at least 39 rape cases reported to Cincinnati police in the Clifton-University Heights area last year.

"We want the university to … realize they can do better and they need to do better," Cunningham said.

The group put together a detailed list of 10 demands for change, saying the university isn't following through with its promises.

The students' demands include: establishing a peer advocacy program, mandatory consent education, a centralized and updated code and centralized website for resources, re-establishment of a campus sexual assault hotline and the removal of the 10-session limit for one-on-one therapy. Read the full list on Students For Survivors' website here.

The university responded to the students' demands, but the students said they were not satisfied with the response. After weeks of dissatisfaction, the students took their concerns straight to UC's administrative offices, staging a sit-in Thursday until they were heard.

"You have continuously failed survivors, yet claim to create a safe campus culture," students said, reading their demands to administrators. "If you are committed, please listen to us."

Bleuzette Marshall, UC's vice president of equity and inclusion, said she never likes "to see people hurt in any process or anything of that nature, and for that I'll offer you an apology."

Marshall came out to meet with the students.

"I will say that there is no doubt that we do have issues related to sexual misconduct on campus," she said. "We know that we can be better in how we address things, and you sharing with us your experiences and your concerns can help me in my role now that some of the responsibility is in my review."

Marshall said they can't guarantee every change, but there are certainly things they can change.

Students said they consider the sit-in an accomplishment, but they'll be waiting for changes to actually take place.

"It means a lot to have people here to support survivors and believe survivors and advocate for what's right," Cunningham said.

Read UC's current sexual assault prevention and education policy below:

Policy Statement on Sex Offenses by James on Scribd