ASG lends support to sexual misconduct petition

An Associated Student Government committee presents ideas for the 10K Initiative. Senate approved all five final options, which the Northwestern community will vote on in the coming weeks.

Sean Hong/Daily Senior Staffer

An Associated Student Government committee presents ideas for the 10K Initiative. Senate approved all five final options, which the Northwestern community will vote on in the coming weeks.

Rebecca Savransky, Assistant Campus Editor

Associated Student Government passed legislation Wednesday supporting a petition drafted by Northwestern professors asking the Board of Trustees to review the University’s current sexual assault and misconduct policies.

The petition, posted Sunday, requests the University implement policies requiring NU to show more transparency and accountability when addressing cases of sexual assault.

During the meeting, Senators also endorsed a set of reforms to the policy, including immediately suspending any staff or faculty member in violation of the policies, adding measures to maintain a case’s confidentiality unless it would put the community in danger and creating an additional independent office to handle sexual violence cases. 

“This is a resolution that we drafted together that echoes the petition that was put on over the past week or weekend that addresses, particularly, some flaws in overall University policy and how we deal with cases of sexual violence and targets of sexual violence,” said Weinberg sophomore Noah Star, a senator for Northwestern Community Development Corps. 

Senate also discussed specifically adding a clause into the legislation requesting that the University immediately suspend Peter Ludlow, the professor who a Medill junior says sexually assaulted her in February 2012. After an internal investigation, Joan Slavin, director of the Sexual Harassment Prevention Office, found Ludlow “engaged unwelcome and inappropriate sexual advances” toward the student.

The amendment was voted down, with senators in opposition citing their desire to make the legislation more universal and to avoid the possibility of being sued for defamation.

Proponents of the legislation requested to vote immediately instead of following protocol and waiting until the following week in order to more immediately address the issue of sexual misconduct on campus.

“I think that we need to support sexual assault victims on this campus,” Weinberg senior Jane Gilmore said. “Northwestern as itself does not handle sexual assault cases very well, period. And especially if we have a faculty member who could be in violation of the sexual assault policies at Northwestern, we need to say something to the University about this and say that we should not have this guy on campus.”

The legislation addressed the inadequacies within the current sexual violence policies, noting NU does not give students enough information about their rights under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Clery Act.

Senate also approved legislation to create an additional position, vice president of student activities, who would serve as the advocate for student groups and would be responsible for student group resource development. 

Members of ASG also presented and approved five final ideas for the 10k Initiative, which will be voted on campus-wide and announced at the beginning of Spring Quarter.

(Letter to the Editor: ASG backs petition calling for change to sexual violence policies)

ASG funding for B-and T-status groups was also addressed. Potential funding options for student groups have been documented, and senators and student groups will have the option to petition for more or less funding and to discuss their allotted funding more thoroughly during the March 5 meeting, said McCormick senior Alex Van Atta, executive vice president, after the meeting.

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Twitter: @beccasavransky