Quick Hit: American University administration refuses sexual assault campus grant

American University students are being given the run around by Vice President of Campus Life, Gail Hanson, as reported by Amanda Hess at TBD. Three days before the application deadline for a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to fund anti-violence campaigns, Hanson asked the student grant committee to “craft an alternate solution.”

Each year, the U.S. Department of Justice shells out $300,000 grants to help colleges and universities fund initiatives to reduce violence against women on their campuses over a three-year period. Last June, a committee of American University administrators, faculty, and students set to work on drafting an application for the grant, hoping to secure funds for a full-time victims advocate, increased training of school officials, a dedicated student group to involve men in sexual assault prevention—and a “mandatory education program for all new students.”

But Hanson’s refusal of the grant is not due to any lack of concern by the students. In fact, at the beginning of the school year, the student senate voted unanimously to make sexual assault education modules mandatory in order to register for spring classes. As a condition of the grant itself, the DoJ requires the funds be allocated to programs with a “hard mandate” in order to ensure every student be engaged with and affected by the program.

So why all the resistance from Hanson?

Since news of Hanson’s derailment of the initiative, student activists have been speaking out to convince administration to pass the grant application before tomorrow’s deadline.

In a letter published in American University campus newspaper the Eagle, Undergraduate Senator Brett Atanasio boosted the campaign. Atanasio called out the administration for enforcing mandatory alcohol awareness training, but refusing to institute similar trainings around sexual assault. “The rationale behind AlcoholEdu is that alcohol is an intractable part of college life, and because of that students must be educated in order to understand how to handle alcohol and protect themselves,” Atanasio wrote. “Unfortunately, sexual assault and rape are also a part of college life, even here at American University. If American University were to receive over $300,000 to provide help and services to victims of sexual assault and violence, it could go that much farther empowering students with the knowledge they need to understand consensual sex and ways they can protect themselves from rape.

Tomorrow at 11 a.m. AU students will stage a protest for the sexual assault prevention funds that they deserve.

    One thought on “Quick Hit: American University administration refuses sexual assault campus grant

    1. It BOGGLES MY MIND that the issue here is mandatory education. (Or specifically, as Amanda quoted in the piece you linked above, “whether it is appropriate to place stops on students’ registrations if they fail to complete a required sexual assault education program.”)

      SERIOUSLY? YOU DON’T WANT ALL OF YOUR STUDENTS TO GET SOME SEXUAL ASSAULT EDUCATION? I honestly don’t even know how to address the absurdity of that. We’ve discussed this before: schools establish codes of conduct that students are expected to abide by. When they don’t, either by cheating, or selling drugs, or sexually assaulting their peers, they are supposed to face consequences. So WHY OH WHY is it unreasonable to expect any student who wishes to become part of that campus community participate in this kind of education? Shouldn’t their enrollment be contingent on agreeing to follow the conduct code????

      One of the student activists from AU posted this in the comments of a post of mine at Feministing, so check it: “If any of y’all can help, e-mail gsher@american and president@american.edu and tell Dr. Hanson, the VP of Student Affairs and President Neil Kerwin that students need to be protected!”