Let’s talk about sex, please

By SEXUAL AND RELATIONSHIP RESPECT COMMITTEE

SARAH FAGAN

Hey Midd,

We are your SGA Sexual and Relationship Respect committee (SRR). Not only do we represent you, but I think we have a common goal. We believe that sexual respect is crucial to making this campus a better place. On that note, we want to make sure that students have access to sexual and relationship resources on campus. We want to make sure that students are aware of these resources, that our campus culture promotes consent and respect and that we can accurately represent the thoughts and needs of the student body in our work. We recognize that students at Midd have varying levels of knowledge, experience and engagement with these issues. Still, we want everyone to be on the same page.

That’s where you come in. SRR cannot accurately represent the diversity of your experiences and ideas or the uniqueness of our student body if students aren’t involved in the work that we do. We believe student feedback is important, and we need more of it. 

A couple years ago, we heard from students that it was difficult to access safe sex supplies on campus. We thought we could do better. In response, over the last two years we’ve worked with Parton, ResLife and facilities to place free pads, tampons, condoms, lube and dental dams in all the first-year and sophomore dorms. This year, SRR proposed a bill which was passed in the SGA Senate, ensuring that these resources will remain available to students in the future.

This year, SRR is focusing on the confusion and frustration with the Title IX process. We’re asking questions like, do students at Middlebury understand how the Title IX reporting process works? Do students understand that there’s a difference between making a complaint and actually reporting to start an investigation? In order for students to feel comfortable and confident accessing Title IX resources on campus, they should know the answers to these questions. We are currently trying to tackle this confusion by beginning to circulate accurate and clear information answering these questions and more.

Students have told us that they want to see a change regarding the culture of sexual assault on campus. Last year we responded with the Complicity Project, which was displayed in Davis last spring and earlier this semester. The display included survey data and interviews from students and faculty regarding how every individual can challenge their complicity day to day. We believe that individual change is what facilitates a change in campus culture, so it’s important for students to consider how they can improve the way they interact with topics of sexual assault on campus.

For years, students have expressed a desire for consent training during orientation. Current Middlebury students have expressed the same desire. Sports teams, social houses, student orgs and individuals have all reached out to the SGA or SRR asking for this development. After substantial research on similar programming at other NESCAC schools, SRR is collaborating with administrators to implement mandatory consent workshops during first-year orientation. We hope to start this programming this February. Similarly, we’re working to bring in professionally-facilitated consent workshops that would be available to all students and student groups on campus. 

All of this is to say that it is when you engage with us that we are most productive and beneficial to you. Before this, you may not have known about SRR and you may not have been aware of our  initiatives. But when it comes to topics of sexual and relationship respect, we are the link between you, the student body and our administration. Student government functions most effectively with student input, and so we implore you to actively engage in these conversations and share your feedback with us. 

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