MSA passes sexual assault resolution

The resolution maps out the group’s partnerships and plans for the spring.

by Haley Hansen

Leaders of the Minnesota Student Association have plans to return to campus after winter break and tackle national issues in higher education.

Along with promoting college affordability and addressing stigmas surrounding mental health, the assembly passed a resolution at its final meeting of the semester Tuesday evening that formalizes its rollout of a sexual assault prevention and awareness platform next semester.

While the group has been working on its sexual assault platform since the summer, MSA President Joelle Stangler said, the resolution outlines its specific plans to partner with the University of Minnesota to improve the campus’s climate. They plan to host educational programs and evaluate sexual assault policies.

The resolution includes a plan to create a task force that partners with the University’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action to evaluate the implementation of an affirmative consent policy, which would potentially mirror California’s recently passed “Yes Means Yes” law. The law requires “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.”

Another part of the resolution outlines the implementation of mandatory sex education that would focus on consent and additional bystander intervention training for incoming University students.

MSA communications director Drew Coveyou said MSA has worked extensively on the plans within the resolution.

“We started working on this the day we took office in July,” he said. “I’m excited to really start working on some concrete ideas about how we can really get these messages to the broader campus community.”

Stangler said MSA has been working with campus groups that focus on sexual assault prevention to ensure the organization’s ideas align with existing school initiatives.

The resolution maps out the group’s plan to coordinate with various groups on campus, including the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally Programs Office and the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education.

Coveyou is leading one of three MSA task forces that will focus on policy changes, awareness and training efforts. He said MSA’s relationships with other groups have helped with developing the plans.

“We need a lot of people on board if we want to make an impact on campus, and the way we do that is through relationship-building,” he said.

The resolution was written by a group of undergraduate and graduate students, including the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and the Council of Graduate Students leaders.

GAPSA President Alfonso Sintjago, who co-authored the resolution, said GAPSA might introduce a similar resolution regarding sexual assault in the future.

State of the campus

The final meeting also included the MSA president’s state of the campus address.

During her speech, Stangler outlined key areas that MSA will focus on in the upcoming months. They included sexual assault prevention, college affordability and mental health.

Stangler also announced her plans to run for a second term next year.

“Serving a second term would help reset an organization that has struggled in recent years to retain senior members — something that is necessary to make sure we’re as effective as possible.”