Senate meetings feature sexual assault prevention and student-parent funding

Thursday’s student senate meeting passed a resolution for student-parent funding while faculty discussed changing sexual misconduct policy.

Interim Associate Vice President of Facilities Management Bill Paulus discusses the renewal projects on various UMN campus' during the student senate meeting on Thursday, Nov. 9 at Coffman Memorial Union. Senate members from all five University of Minnesota campuses were in attendance via video.

Courtney Deutz

Interim Associate Vice President of Facilities Management Bill Paulus discusses the renewal projects on various UMN campus’ during the student senate meeting on Thursday, Nov. 9 at Coffman Memorial Union. Senate members from all five University of Minnesota campuses were in attendance via video.

Max Chao

Two University of Minnesota senate meetings for students and faculty on Thursday highlighted sexual assault prevention tactics and a resolution regarding student parenting issues.

The strategies are part of University President Eric Kaler’s sexual misconduct prevention campaign, developed in May, and specific plans were first announced last week. 

The strategies include expanded training for faculty and staff, a new public health campaign, an assessment of existing educational programs and additional online education for the undergraduate, graduate and professional student bodies.

The added online education isn’t a perfect method, Kaler said, but can help give the student body a firm understanding of sexual misconduct prevention and bystander intervention, he said. 

Other training modules for faculty and staff will also highlight bystander intervention, he said.

“I really cannot emphasize to you enough how important this is to me, how important this is to our senior leadership team and how important it is to… our community. We have to do this,” Kaler said.

One of these recommendations would require all students to complete online sexual assault prevention training, “and a disincentive should be instituted for non-completion,” said a report on the campaign.

Currently, all incoming freshman and transfer students are only strongly encouraged to take online training modules. The University reports an 86 percent completion rate, said Maggie Towle, interim vice president for student affairs. 

The proposals will undergo a 30-day comment period to receive public feedback, Kaler said.

Student Senate

At the student senate’s first meeting of the year on Thursday, student-parent issues were the main topic.

A resolution was passed to secure funding for campus childcare grants and to help members of the student senate collect data on local student-parents.

“At the University of Minnesota, we’re facing a funding problem with our current student-parent help center and just overall getting money towards student-parents or childcare [resources],” said George Abdallah, student senator and sponsor of the bill.

Childcare spots at the University of Minnesota are low compared to other Big Ten schools, the resolution said. The University offers 140 spots for childcare while the University of Wisconsin-Madison offers 443 spots, it said.

“This is going to be an uphill battle… Now it’s up to us, the student body, to really pressure the administration and pressure the state legislature to allocate more funding for [childcare],” Abdallah said.

The resolution is pending review by Kaler.