The Student Advisory Committee for Sexual Misconduct is UMBC’s newest, student-led group focused on sexual harassment prevention. They work with campus leadership and officials to implement policies and initiatives that will help prevent sexual harassment on campus.
The idea is to have a fresh perspective by allowing UMBC students to create positive change concerning issues that are important to them. In this case, it regards the ongoing dilemma of sexual assault. “The Student Government Association, Graduate Student Association and We Believe You recognized that more students needed to be involved in this decision-making process,” says Collin Sullivan, SGA president and co-founder of the committee. “We know that meaningful change can’t happen without working with students from a variety of organizations, majors, cultures, backgrounds and beliefs.”
The committee is composed of both graduate and undergraduate students who serve as advisors to UMBC’s administration and provide feedback on the proposals made regarding sexual misconduct on campus. “Our organizations were looking for two key characteristics in interested applicants: [a] passion for improving our community and dedication to supporting survivors of sexual violence,” Sullivan stated.
UMBC has other on-campus organizations that aim to raise awareness of sexual violence and assault. We Believe You is an organization lead by UMBC students that provides a safe space for sexual violence survivors to share their experiences. The organization was created to provide support for the members of the community that have been affected by this issue by listening and taking action locally. The group hosts on-campus events and volunteer projects to help raise awareness.
Retriever Courage is another initiative that was implemented to encourage UMBC students to unite as a community, find a resolution to the problem of sexual violence and support other students who have been impacted. The initiative directs many of UMBC’s campus values towards one common goal. “Change requires the courage to speak out, to listen, to learn, and to take action. We must fully live our campus values—inclusive excellence, collaboration, innovation and impact—to make UMBC a safer, more caring living, learning and working environment for all,” writes President Freeman Hrabowski in an email addressing UMBC students.
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds, yet only 0.6 percent of the perpetrators will go to prison. Sexual violence has been a major conversation outside of UMBC as well; movements such as #Metoo and #Believewomen went viral across social media in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal. What started as a simple hashtag lead to thousands of people using their platforms to take a stand against sexual violence and share their stories with others who have experienced similar situations.
UMBC is determined to find solutions that ensure the safety and well-being of every student. In the meantime, organizations such as The Student Advisory Committee for Sexual Misconduct and We Believe You provides support for students, as well as a voice for the student body.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article mistakenly referred to Collin Sullivan as the founder of the committee rather than a co-founder. The article has since been updated.