By Chantè Russell, Managing Editor (@BeTheZeitgeist)
Howard University students, faculty and staff gathered in front of Andrew Carnegie Hall on Wednesday, Aug. 29 take a pledge standing against interpersonal violence. This event launched the University’s year-long HU Stands campaign.
Throughout the year, HU Stands will host various events on campus with the intent of educating the Howard community on how to look for interpersonal violence, how to to prevent interpersonal violence, what options and resources are available for those who have experienced interpersonal violence, how the University’s Interim Title IX Policy deals with interpersonal violence and how they can “take a stand.”
Last year, the Interim Title IX Policy on Prohibited Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Violence and other forms of Interpersonal Violence. The policy, as well as HU Stand’s initiatives, cover all interpersonal violence including sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination or harassment, dating and domestic violence, stalking and retaliation.
While “interpersonal violence” covers various forms of violence, sexual assault has been a recurring topic of conversation on Howard’s campus recently. In March 2016, students began the #TakeBackTheNightHU protest in response to their concerns involving sexual assault on campus. Since then, there have still been numerous occasions of student complaints via social media that the University doesn’t handle sexual assault properly. In March 2018, students occupied the Mordecai Wyatt Johnson Administration building with nine demands, one of which was that Howard University actively fight rape culture on campus.
President Wayne Frederick says that he agrees that there is a sexual assault issue on Howard’s campus, as well as every other campus.
“When you have young people interacting with one another, they’re coming into their own, people have different views, different experiences and so I think that there’s always that risk [of sexual assault] and it’s an issue on every single campus,” said Frederick. “[HU Stands] is not the solution or some magic potion that will just fix this ultimately, but it is something to help start addressing it.”
Like President Frederick, students are hopeful that HU Stands will make a difference.
“[HU Stands] is proof that the University did hear our demands [during the March 2018 administration building occupation] and I think it’s going to have a great impact,” said Diego Leblond, junior finance major.
Leblond chose to attend HU Stands kick-off event to show solidarity with a friend who was in an abusive relationship.
The Title IX Office advises that both victims of interpersonal violence and those looking for their own way to take a stand visit www.HUStands.howard.edu and attend their other events throughout the year.