GAPSA OKs changes to sexual assault reporting

Former GAPSA president Kristi Kremers is heading the efforts.

by Cali Owings

An ad-hoc Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and Minnesota Student Association committee made some progress Wednesday night in its effort to improve campus safety, specifically in reference to sexual assault, but left two proposals tabled.

Former GAPSA president Kristi Kremers formed the committee earlier in the semester to address many of the problems she encountered after she was assaulted this summer.

During its general assembly meeting Wednesday, GAPSA considered three resolutions relating to campus safety, but only passed one.

It passed a resolution to expand the Minnesota state statute that defines criminal sexual conduct in the fifth degree to include touching of the buttocks through clothing.

This type of contact is not currently considered a sexual offense and would result in a misdemeanor for assault.

“ItâÄôs basically made then to be the equivalent of pushing someone,” Kremers said.

Council of Graduate Students representative Tim Salo said he thought the law was originally written that way to exclude parents who spank their children from being prosecuted for criminal sexual conduct.

Kremers had previously introduced more resolutions relating to campus safety, including:

ïÄ´ Fixing the geo-coding for 911 calls from residents of the Commonwealth Terrace Cooperative in St. Paul;

ïÄ´ Improving lighting on the St. Paul campus;

ïÄ´ Defining different levels of sexual assault in Clery Act reporting and including rape, attempted rape and unwanted sexual contact

ïÄ´ Creating anonymous reporting so crime statistics are more accurate

ïÄ´ Including cases of simple assault in the UniversityâÄôs annual Clery Report

Some of the resolutions were not brought to the general assembly again because Kremers was able to address her concerns with the University of Minnesota Police Department, she said.

Since the University is a member of the federal financial aid program, health centers, deans, coaches, faculty, advisers and housing directors are required under the Clery Act to report campus crimes, including sexual assault.

Drinking violations, homicide and theft, among others, are to be included in Clery Act reporting, but not assault.

Kremers introduced a resolution to include assault in Clery reporting at the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students and the Student Advocates for Graduate Education, both of which passed the resolution.

A copy of the resolution was not available during the assembly meeting, so it was tabled until the next meeting in late January.

The assembly also tabled a resolution to improve lighting on the St. Paul campus. The original resolution referred specifically to the area near the St. Paul Gymnasium on Cleveland Avenue between Folwell and Larpenteur avenues.

Many members of the assembly acknowledged that more areas of the St. Paul campus could use improved lighting.

Veterinary medicine graduate student Philip Kieffer said the walk from the Equine Center and the buildings near the Veterinary Medical Center is poorly lit and risky for anyone trying to navigate the campus, not just students.

“Whenever safety is an issue, I think it really benefits everyone,” Kieffer said.

GAPSA Vice Presidents for Student Affairs Bree Dalager and Terrance Paape will be responsible for identifying more areas that are poorly lit and drafting a more comprehensive resolution.

Though many of these changes stem from KremersâÄô personal experience, she said she hoped to receive more feedback from other victims.

“My personal experience alone isnâÄôt sufficient,” she said.