Michelle Marchante/News Director and Joshua Ceballos/Assistant News Director
The Student Government Association has passed a university-wide resolution supporting victims of sexual misconduct after an eruption of nationwide scandals surrounding Greek life occurred last year, including an incident involving one of FIU’s own fraternities.
The resolution, according to Antonia Passalacqua, one of the resolution’s authors and chairwoman of the Student Advocacy Committee at the Modesto Maidique campus, was created to let the student body know that SGA stands with the victims of sexual misconduct and the University’s policies.
“[T] he idea behind this is that there were certain incidents in the University that happened and we as a Student Government wanted to take action and say ‘we’re not going to let this happen’ because we set the rhetoric for the students that come after us,” Passalacqua said. “We want to make FIU the safest campus possible and we want people to know that if you are a victim of sexual assault you can seek help on campus …”
“The Sexual Misconduct Joint Resolution To Condemn Sexual Misconduct And Support Victims of Sexual Misconduct At Florida International University” identifies the sexual misconduct policies found in Student Conduct and the FIU Handbook, the different forms of sexual misconduct and the different options available to victims of sexual misconduct.
One of the most important portions of the resolution for Passalacqua, who is also a senator for Arts, Science and Education, is the different explanations as to what counts as sexual misconduct.
“Researching what sexual harassment means and what it means to our University you realize that it’s not just physical touch,” Passalacqua said. “We live in a world where everything is media, everything is through text message, everything is in group chat which is why you have to be really careful what you put out there and what you let others put out there because that’s still sexual assault.”
Sexual misconduct, as defined by the resolution, includes but is not limited to sexual violence, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and rape. Sexual exploitation, the resolution states, can also be the distribution or “non-consensual streaming of images, photography, video, or audio recording of Sexual Contact or nudity” without the consent of all involved parties.
The resolution also directly references Tau Kappa Epsilon, a University fraternity that made national headlines after leaked screenshots of the group’s private chat allegedly depicted inappropriate content such as nude photos of women, discussions of drug distributions, racial slurs, pedophilia and inappropriate comments about a deceased sorority girl. The fraternity is currently suspended for investigation.
Passalacqua, who is Greek and a big supporter of “It’s On Us,” the national organization dedicated to ending campus sexual assault, said that while TKE was one of the resolution’s inspirations, it wasn’t the reason for its creation.
Sexual misconduct happens everywhere in the world, not just in Greek life, she said, which is why this resolution was created to start more conversations on the subject.
However, while the resolution passed unanimously in the Student Government Council at the Modesto Maidique campus, the decision to explicitly mention TKE by name in the resolution caused some dissent in the Student Government Council at BBC.
The TKE focus in the last few sections of the resolution “took away” from sexual misconduct victims, which is why SGC-BBC’s Senate requested a wording change, SGC-BBC Senate Speaker Jonathan Espino and one of the resolution’s sponsors, said to Student Media in an email.
Mentioning TKE however was an important factor for Passalacqua and her committee as it was a “stand” against sexual assault and was not something they were willing to take out, she said.
SGC-BBC additionally was unable to submit their suggested revisions prior to MMC’s reading due to technical difficulties, according to Espino’s email.
And despite what is believed, the resolution also passed at SGC-BBC 4 to 6, Espino stated in his email.
“At the end of the day, the Senate most definitely agrees with the Resolution and are beyond happy that it was made and addressed such an important issue,” read Espino’s email.
SGC-BBC, he wrote, is also working on a resolution calling for a sexual misconduct forum to complement SGA’s joint resolution.
Feature Image by Nicole Malanga/PantherNOW