Letter to the editor: Ask The Other Person, “May I Kiss You?”

Dear Editor:

We are very pleased to see Michael Jones February 3rd article “True Wolverine. It’s On Us.” and his challenge to UVU students to live up to the principles of the “It’s On Us” campaign. True Wolverine is a great tradition for all the reasons listed by Mr. Jones, but the events described by Mr. Jones—that his friend, one of our students, was coerced into kissing someone else against her will—are completely unacceptable and underscore the urgency from which this national campaign emerged.

Before we go further we want to make two things clear. First, Mr. Jones initial intervention on his friend’s behalf is exactly the kind of bystander intervention we encourage of all our students. Thank you for standing up for your friend.

 Second, UVU has resources and reporting options for any kind of unwelcome sexual behavior. We whole heartedly urge any student who has been subject to this kind of behavior, or who has witnessed this behavior, to report it to the Title IX Coordinator, Dean of Students, the Director of Student Conduct, or the Police. There is assistance and options available, and the University will hold students accountable under the Student Code of Conduct. We are dedicated to educating students that even seemingly playful, flirty, or well-intentioned behavior can still be considered sexual misconduct or assault.

Mr. Jones said it best when he wrote “Intention does not justify action, especially when another individual is involved. We must be sensitive to the wishes of others to govern their own experiences.” At it’s core, voluntary consent is the underlying principle of the It’s On Us Campaign. UVU is committed to building a campus culture of respect for others. UVU is conducting student and employee training to make sure every campus member understands that they do not have to be subject to any unwanted sexual behavior. Sexual misconduct will not be tolerated. It’s on Us Campaign reminds us it is every individual’s responsibility to make sure sexual advances, even hugs or kisses, are met with affirmative, unambiguous consent. Only “yes” means “yes”. “I don’t know” is not consent. Any level of resistance is a “NO.” It doesn’t mean try harder; it doesn’t mean try again later.

For True Wolverine to be a successful tradition, participation must be 100% voluntary, and free from any type of pressure, coercion, or force to participate. We have an obligation to our students to make sure this event, and all University activities, are free from sexual harassment and assault. We will do better next year. We will make sure the principles of the It’s On Us campaign are more deliberately built in to True Wolverine tradition. UVUSA Student Activities has already identified several proactive steps to help True Wolverine support the It’s On Us campaign. Examples of this include displaying It’s On Us campaign banners at the event, showing the It’s On Us UVU public service announcement before the event begins, emphasizing participation must be voluntary and  having an It’s On Us pledge booth available to allow students to commit to protecting themselves and each other.

For more information about UVU resources available please visit

http://www.uvu.edu/equalopportunity/docs/sexualassault_brochure11_19_14.pdf

For more information about the It’s On Us campaign please visit

www.itsonus.org

 

Sincerely,

Alexis Palmer, Dean of Students

Ashley Larsen, Director, Student Conduct

Melissa Frost, Title IX Coordinator

RileeJo Stone, UVUSA Vice President, Activities

Tyler Brklacich, UVUSA President

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