The Virginia Policy Review hosted a conference Wednesday night on the publication of a Nationwide Sexual Assault Policy for universities. The conference, which hosted graduate students from various disciplines across the University, was a preliminary step toward publishing a special issue in the Virginia Policy Review early in April 2016.
The issue seeks to include various pieces on topics relating to law, health, finance, personal experiences, safety and campus design. One of the points raised at the conference was gathering an editorial board to oversee the development of the publication over the next year.
Frank Bontempo, the outgoing editor-in-chief of the Virginia Policy Review, said they would like to look at sexual assault policy as an interdisciplinary issue on a nationwide scale as well as with a focus on the University.
“There’s been a lot going on recently on campus. There was Hannah Graham, the Rolling Stone article and what happened on the Corner recently,” Bontempo said.
Emily McLean, incoming editor-in-chief of the Virginia Policy Review, said it is crucial that the editorial staff represent the general graduate expertise as a whole.
“We have so many different prestigious graduate programs that don’t necessarily interact on a regular basis,” McLean said. “[This is] something that we could use to attract students from diff grad programs to give opinions on issue.”
After Bontempo and McLean gave their opening remarks, conference attendees broke into groups to brainstorm about potential concerns and developing methods for next year’s issue. Discussion topics ranged from the role of infrastructure in having a safe campus to student alcohol consumption. After the discussion, Bontempo invited attendees to comment on the ideas of their groups.
Rebecca Beeson, outgoing content director of the Virginia Policy Review, said considering the student perspective and understanding of universities’ sexual assault policies would be beneficial to the issue.
“It would be interesting to do some qualitative research. I have a feeling that would be very illuminating,” Beeson said.
Bontempo then continued on to talk about a plan for putting together the issue next April.
“This is all very tentative and in the works,” Bontempo said. “We initially had thought that the staff would be the entire grad community from across U.Va.”
Bontempo also said the issue would have an advisory board comprised of administrators, alumni, faculty and students.
“We thought this would be a good idea, because it would help demonstrate credibility for the publication,” Bontempo said. “I don’t think the advisory board would serve an editorial purpose.”
Bontempo said during the submissions phase, the editorial board would accept from a broad range of people on the issue’s focus.
“The content would focus solely on sexual assault policy at universities across the United States,” Bontempo said. “We are thinking about putting no limitations on submissions. Anyone who wanted to submit, I don’t really think we would put any limits on that.”
Bontempo also said the Virginia Policy Review plans to award monetary prizes for the top three submissions.
“I don’t think with these kinds of awards it would be hard to get people to contribute,” Bontempo said.
As the conference came to an end, Bontempo said this is just an outline of plans for the issue rather than a final blueprint.
“This is just a general vision of what it would look like,” Bontempo said. “This isn’t just VPR’s issue. This is the graduate community’s issue.”