University professor drafts sexual assault survivor bill of rights

Proposal seeks to increase public accessibility of sexual assault policy

nsjoeallencourtesyvirginiaedu2

University Psychology Prof. Joseph Allen drafted a bill of rights for survivors of sexual assault summarizing the University’s existing policy on sexual misconduct.

In the wake of the recent Rolling Stone article, which called the University’s sexual assault policies into question, Allen said he found the policy daunting and hoped rewriting the policy in a more clear, concise manner would make it more accessible to students.

Allen said he hopes this will encourage more survivors to come forward with their stories. Reporting instances of sexual assault ultimately makes the community safer, he said.

“Survivors who come forward can not only hold individual perpetrators accountable, they can prevent future assaults by breaking the culture of silence that lets some perpetrators feel they can act with impunity,” Allen said.

Allen said making these policies more accessible to the public might even lead to fewer acts of sexual violence.

“If potential perpetrators believe that their vile acts will become publicly known, they will be far less likely to go through with them,” he said.

Allen said his hope in drafting the bill is for students to reject the negative stigma some associate with reporting instances of sexual assault, and to instead recognize that the University stands in solidarity with survivors.

“[Survivors] fear they won’t get adequate support for the stresses that coming forward will create,” Allen said. “If you choose to come forward, we won’t leave you hanging.”

Allen said he is optimistic members of the University community will step up and take the change many feel is desperately needed.

“Together, we can create a culture of accountability, and of support for survivors,” Allen said. “We have the capacity to dramatically reduce this problem and improve the quality and reputation of the University at the same time.”

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