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Assessing UD’s response to gendered violence on campus

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Sophia Schmidt
/
Delaware Public Media

Last month, a University of Delaware student was charged with kidnapping and assaulting a woman in what’s been described as an act of domestic violence.

In response, students protested, calling on UD to do more to address gender-based violence.

Delaware Public Media’s Rebecca Baer spoke with UD grad and manager of “Know Your IX,” a national organization that works with students to end gender violence Sage Carson about the school’s response and how colleges can better protect students.

Delaware Public Media’s Rebecca Baer interviews UD grad and “Know Your Nine” manager Sage Carson

A University of Delaware graduate who works with students across the country to fight gender-based violence is praising the school’s handling of a recent case involving domestic violence. But she says its response is “not the norm.”

Last month, police arrested a UD student for allegedly kidnapping and assaulting a woman reported to be his ex-girlfriend. The incident prompted protests by students who say there’s a pervasive culture of gendered violence on campus.

But Sage Carson points out that the school acted quickly to address the situation, suspending the student who was arrested.

“I think what we’re seeing is when things go right for the most part; when someone calls the police, when something is so shocking that the university has no option but to respond,” Carson said. “But I wonder what would happen if the survivor hadn’t called the police, hadn’t immediately reached out for help and instead days later had come to the school to report what had happened.”

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UD grad and “Know Your IX” manager Sage Carson

Carson, who graduated from UD in 2017, is the manager of Know Your IX. The organization provides students with training and resources on Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination in education based on sex, which includes sexual harassment and sexual violence. She said schools have little difficulty in resolving conflicts between, for example, roommates, but often struggle to adequately address reports of sexual assault or intimate partner violence.

“So often what we see is universities and the people who are making policies have their own biased understanding of gender-based violence, their own sexist viewpoints, and that can infiltrate the ways they respond to violence within schools,” she said.

In response to the latest incident, UD administrators have implemented increased safety measures and are launching a task force to address gender-based violence. Carson said colleges should focus more on listening directly to survivors of gender-based violence, understand where they feel the school may have failed them, and change policies and procedures.

Rebecca Baer comes Delaware Public Media from The Florida Channel in Tallahassee where she covered state government and produced documentary features for the series, Florida Crossroads.