Clara-Meretan Kiah / Contributing Writer
A phone call, a text and an email in a span of ten minutes on Sept. 4: that’s how the University notified students of the most recent incident involving the bicyclist who grabs women’s behinds at night on campus.
“On two separate occasions, an unknown male on a bicycle has grabbed two females’ buttocks at the Modesto Maidique Campus. Contact FIUPD if you have any information,” read the text alert.
This new use of the alert system in an incident of sexual harassment is part of the University’s plan to adhere to the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act.
Campus SaVE requires all universities and colleges in the United States that participate in the federal student aid program to increase awareness and transparency about sexual violence on campus.
“The fact that the University notified us about just a groping incident lets me know that the University takes this issue very seriously,” said Lorena Rivera, a senior majoring in dietetics and nutrition.
Campus SaVE was introduced in 2013, and the University is required to implement its new plans for education and notification about sexual violence by Oct. 1, 2014.
The University already has extensive programs in place that teach students how to protect themselves from sexual violence and offer counseling to victims, all of which are included in the cost of tuition and can be sought out at any time during the year.
The Women’s Center hosts a march and rally for awareness about sexual violence called “Take Back the Night” during Sexual Assault Awareness month in April.
Through the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services, students can seek advice and services for any emotional or mental health issues, stress counseling or even just someone to talk to after a harsh exam.
Students can visit CAPS any time during the day for a walk-in counseling session with a University psychologist who will evaluate their needs and refer them to the right services on campus.
Students seeking advice or counseling on sexual violence issues are referred to the University’s Victim Empowerment Program.
“We are focused on trauma-sensitive practices, and we work with anyone who comes in citing that they’ve been assaulted, are dealing with a stalking incident, are past victims of abuse and so on,” said VEP victim advocate counselor Lisa Simpson.
As a victim advocate, Simpson offers psychological counseling, escorts students to rape trauma treatment at Jackson Memorial Hospital, assists with on-campus housing arrangements for students who experience abuse at home and helps those who wish to press charges against their attacker.
VEP also hosts events on campus to educate students about how they can protect themselves from sexual violence and harassment.
“We try to make sex education appealing to students. For instance, we designed the T-shirts you see around campus that say ‘I mustache for consent,’” said Wendy Ordonez, VEP’s coordinator of outreach and educational media.
Between Sept. 15 and 24, VEP will host their annual Red Zone events, which are designed to prepare students for the first six weeks of the semester, when students are most likely to experience sexual assault on campus.
The Women’s Center, CAPS and VEP are located at both MMC and BBC, and all services are free and confidential for students and faculty.
Rivera said that compared to other schools like Columbia University, which gained national media attention for a student who vowed to carry her mattress to class every day until her rapist is expelled, FIU does a good job of educating students and handling incidents of sexual violence.
As a former R.A. on campus, Rivera was trained in all the services CAPS and VEP offer so she could relay the information to her residents.
Overall, students like Janay Jackson think the University is handling the issue of sexual violence in college the right way.
“I think FIU is doing a really good job on telling us what steps to take and who to contact if anything were to happen to us,” said the senior event planning major.
|Victim Empowerment Program||Counseling and Psychological Services||The Women’s Center|
|Modesto Maidique Campus||SHC 270||SHC 270||GC 2200|
|Biscayne Bay Campus||WUC 320||WUC 320||WUC 220|