Video Update from American University

Amanda Hess has been doing a great job of covering the activists at American University who are pushing the school to sign off on a VAWA grant that will fund the school to improve their sexual assault resources. As Selena mentioned, the grant application was being blocked because the Vice President refused to sign off on mandating prevention education for all incoming students. Today Amanda posts video of the students protesting, and their meeting with VP Hanson.

This part of Amanda’s latest post (and you can see it in the video) really struck me:

Following the protest, around 40 AU students staged a sit-in in Hanson’s office to confront her on her lack of support of sexual assault prevention. “It’s very hard to understand because it’s administrative,” Hanson told students on her refusal to sign off on the grant application. “It’s just a lot of detail and it’s not what you care about.”

I really don’t think it’s hard to understand why arranging a sexual assault prevention program that 1500 students would present an administrative challenge. I mean seriously, I’m sure it was hard enough for the student protesters to get 40 folks to their sit-in, I think they get it. But here’s the thing: they’re not saying “This is so easy, why can’t you just make it happen?” They are saying, “this might be hard to accomplish, but it’s JUST THAT IMPORTANT. It’s important to us, and it should be that important to you.” Instead of condescending to students about how they just don’t care about the details, it would be nice if Hanson recognized why there is so much emotion around this issue, or even made it clear that despite the challenges she felt like the students had reasonable demands. I just don’t get it. You have 40 young people in your office telling you they want to be EDUCATED and this is how you respond?

In the end, the school wouldn’t sign off on the grant, but students did get Hanson to sign a document stating her intention to work with students on these issues and vaguely stating that American will “Ensure that all new students are educated on sexual assault.” Amanda rightly points out that this seems impossible without making such education MANDATORY, but the students at American seem ready to keep fighting and holding their school accountable to those promises.

Originally posted at Change Happens

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