USF at the Fore in Fight Against Sexual Assault

By ED CARPENTER, OFFICE OF MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS Posted Wed, 09/23/2015 - 16:17

When District Attorney George Gascón and Supervisor Jane Kim announced a three-pronged initiative to combat sexual assault on San Francisco college campuses at a press conference at USF on Sept. 22, several USFers on stage and standing in the wings could proudly say they were part of the team that made it happen. 

Accompanying Gascón and Kim on stage and in the wings were Gascón’s Communications and Legislative Affairs Manager Maxwell Szabo JD ’18, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr ’88; University of California, San Francisco Interim Police Chief Mike Denson ’05; and San Francisco Assistant District Attorney Marisa Rodriguez JD ’08 — all of whom played key roles in developing the initiative.

At the heart of the initiative are seven agreements between the DA’s office, police, and the city’s seven universities and colleges to coordinate their responses to campus sexual assaults and to take into account victims’ health, privacy, and safety needs. The agreements — the first prong of the initiative — will be signed within days.

USF leads by example

The second prong is legislation to be introduced by Supervisor Kim that will create a Safer Schools Sexual Assault Task Force. The task force, if approved by the board of supervisors, will establish best practices to prevent sexual violence on campuses, Kim said.

The third element is a public education campaign called “#1in5,” which references the national statistic that 1 in 5 college women are sexually assaulted in college. The campaign will utilize a network of community groups and on-campus organizations, as well as social media, to encourage students and educators to break the silence.  

“We are here at USF today to announce this initiative because USF has led by example: by kicking off a public education campaign and raising awareness about sexual assault, by creating mandatory training for students, and by adopting first of its kind technology that allows students to report sexual assaults online,” Gascón said. USF co-created Think About It, an online alcohol, drugs, and sexual violence course now used at 500 colleges and universities across the country, and was the first university nationwide to adopt Callisto, an online sexual assault reporting program.

It resonates with USF values

Szabo, a second year law student, wasn’t surprised so many USFers contributed to the initiative. “USF is really ahead of the curve on this issue, and this resonates with the school’s values,” Szabo said.

“USF’s administration, faculty, and students all strive to foster a sense of community,” Szabo said. “I think that shared identity is going to make a difference since a central component of this campaign is public education. This is a very tight-knit community, so we all take a personal stake in this issue, and each others’ success and safety.” 

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