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Protesters Demand Zero-Tolerance for Sexual Assault
IOWA CITY, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) -- The University of Iowa is now working with advocates who want to see stronger penalties and more prevention for sexual assaults on campus.
This follows a protest Monday on the Pentacrest where students demanded the university adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual misconduct, like the kind that already exist for drugs and plagiarism.
Chanting, "Stop the violence, end the silence," dozens of protesters lined up on Clinton Street to make that demand, saying, more needs to be done to stop sexual misconduct.
"Right now, as it stands, you're more likely to get kicked out of the dorms for smoking marijuana than you are for raping somebody," said protest organizer Stacia Scott.
The protest stemmed for a comment that UI President Sally Mason made in the student newspaper The Daily Iowan, saying, she would like to end all sexual assaults, but that wasn't likely because of "human nature."
That spurred an immediate response from victims and advocates, who also feel like the university's crime alert emails use language that blames victims.
"To read the emails and to hear story after story after story about how the victim blame in the emails impact people, something has to be done, steps have to be taken, and we are eager and excited to be collaborating with the university to come up with the solution," Scott said.
Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator Monique DiCarlo said the demands from the students need to be taken seriously, and the university should work with them to come up with those solutions. She said she believes the university is already doing important work to prevent sexual assault, but there is always room for improvement.
"I want to dream. I want to end the problem and I am working with my colleagues, again, in a multi-pronged, multi-disciplinary way, with that belief," DiCarlo said.
After the protest, organizers met with the Vice President of Student Affairs Tom Rockland to present their list of demands, and Scott said they were received positively. The group will continue to meet with Rockland, as well as continuing the same kind of protests they held on Monday, every Monday at noon on the Pentacrest, until students decide to stop, she said.
DiCarlo said the best way to help the cause is by getting involved through education, as a victim advocate or a trained bystander.
Find resources for how to help by visiting the Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator webpage or the protest website, notinmynature.com.