Friday, November 20, 2009

How Should CUNY employ the data from research

Part3: How Should CUNY employ the data from the research

The previous two studies that have been cited provide us as CUNY students with a piece of the framework we should think of in terms of the prevention-based sexual assault policy. (Please watch the townhall meeting for further information at CUNYSGC.COM.) As we are aware the policy incorporates pieces on stalking. As seen in the two studies, stalking is highest among ages 18-29, which definitely fits the age demographics of CUNY. Within the second study that looked at stalking among college-aged women, they found a higher rate of stalking among college-aged females. We also know there is an overlap between domestic violence, sexual assault, and incidents of stalking. We need to also think about male victims of stalking and the LGBT population, as well as our large immigrant population, which includes undocumented students. This is where we must address the issue of marginal populations and invisible populations. We have to understand that when it comes to the support network and the access to services, we as CUNY students must divert from the general model where certain populations are deemed victims and thus have access to services. What I mean by this is realistically we know that there are certain populations-males, LGBT, immigrants, undocumented, special needs population-have a more difficult time accessing services. Therefore while the prevention-based policy includes the pieces on stalking, it is a beginning not an end. This is why it is so important to make sure we have advocates that are trained on these different issues where they can assist students.

In addition stalking just like sexual assault and intimate partner violence are not one-size fits all models. Therefore we must challenge ourselves to think beyond just categories where we separate things such as sexual assault, incidents of stalking and domestic violence, for as we have seen from the studies they are occurring simultaneously, which further complicates the situation. The fact that anyone is being stalked negatively impacts their ability to academically excel while places them in fear. This also corrodes our own sense of safety. Educational institutions are places where we want to have the social atmosphere where we feel safe and comfortable. The act of stalking violates that very personal space of safety. Therefore it is up to us as students to generate a dialogue around these issues where we think beyond the regular framework as domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking are different. While the policy is important and plays a vital role in affirming that the CUNY system will not tolerate it, it is us the CUNY student who must stand at the forefront and help our fellow students.

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