Florida A&M University’s Office of Student Activities hosted #MeToo founder Tarana Burke and her colleagues on April 19, as part of the #MeToo HBCU Tour. Due to severe weather, the day of programming was shortened to two events, a well-attended forum for men and an evening panel discussion featuring Burke and some of her team.
During the evening event, panelists raised questions about the University’s response to students’ concerns regarding safety, sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus.
FAMU takes the issues of sexual violence and sexual harassment on campus very seriously. In recent years, the University has added six positions, including two psychologists, a victim’s advocate, a case manager, a Title IX coordinator and a Title IX investigator, who is solely dedicated to investigating reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment. The University also created a Center for Interpersonal Violence Prevention and Intervention and a center for LGBTQ students.
FAMU has Title VII and Title IX programs consistent with federal and state statutes, and University Regulations, Policies and Procedures. The University takes action to investigate student, staff and faculty complaints of sexual harassment pursuant to federal and state statutes.
“The University does not condone or tolerate this type of conduct,” said William E. Hudson, Jr., Ph.D., FAMU vice president of Student Affairs. “We are committed to creating and maintaining a healthy and safe campus environment in which our students’ ability to learn, excel and reach their full potential is not limited by the threat or occurrence of sexual violence and sexual harassment.”
FAMU’s main and satellite campuses conduct mandatory sexual harassment and Title IX training for faculty, staff, and students. Anyone who believes he or she may be a victim of sexual harassment is encouraged to notify/report the matter to the Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs/Title IX for appropriate action. The office’s director, Carrie Gavin, can be reached at (850) 599-3076 and [email protected]. Victims of sexual assault can call the Counseling Center, (850) 599-3145 or the Student Health Services (850) 599-3777 or the FAMU Police Department (850) 599-3256.
In addition to beefing up staff, for the past three years, FAMU faculty and staff have developed a coordinated community response team to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking with the help of a $300,000 federal grant funded by the U.S. Office of Violence Against Women.
“Gender-based violence has a negative ripple effect and FAMU is taking a college-wide approach, which includes ongoing training of law enforcement, judicial board members, students and faculty on how we can all work together to create a safer campus,” said Yolanda Bogan, Ph.D., a FAMU psychology professor and program director of the FAMU Center for Interpersonal Violence, Intervention and Prevention.
Bogan, along with Tanya Tatum, executive director of Student Health and Counseling Services, attended the #MeToo evening panel discussion. During the event, Bogan spoke of the need for FAMU students, male and female, to continue to work with faculty, administrators and staff to maintain awareness of issues related to sexual assault, dating violence, stalking and domestic violence.
The Center for Interpersonal Violence, Intervention and Prevention has worked to review and improve policies, train university employees and provide culturally sensitive educational and outreach programming to the FAMU community around these issues.
“National findings reinforce the need to engage all students, not just females, in the fight against gender-based violence,” said Bogan Wednesday.
To ensure that students are oriented to the FAMU policies and legal standards around these issues, Bogan said, the initiative provides educational programming in the First Year Experience courses as a follow-up to the student orientation training.
Near the end of the HBCU #MeToo Tour event, Burke showed the audience a written statement on a poster, which her group had asked the University as well as other HBCUs to sign as part of their commitment to the fight against sexual violence on campus. Burke’s agreement is under review.
“We are always looking for ways to improve our services and remain open to working with Ms. Burke and any organization who can enhance the safety of our campus,” Hudson said.