The City of Fairfax is known as a considerably safe area as far as crime rates, but there have been an inordinate amount of reports of sexual violence on Mason’s Fairfax campus.
Our inboxes have received far too many emails titled “Timely Warning Notification,” letting us know about yet another sexual assault here at GMU. Just one report of such a terrible offense is bad enough, but receiving multiple ones in the span of four months sends the message that something more needs to be done.
First of all, what are these Timely Warnings all about anyways?
At the top of each of these emails from the GMU Department of Police and Public Safety office, there is a little explanation of the purpose of the notice. It states:
“Timely Warning notifications are released by the George Mason University Department of Police and Public Safety (Mason Police) to alert the campus community about crimes that pose a serious or continuing threat to safety. These public notifications are intended to enable campus community members to protect themselves.”
So basically, the Police Department is letting us know about these happenings so that we can watch our own backs, but they have yet to issue some kind of proactive action themselves. Then, after describing the report of the sexual assault, Mason Police attaches some advice for “Sexual Violence Risk Reduction”, how to “Report Sexual Violence on Campus” and on campus confidential and non-confidential resources onto the end of the email. And with all of this, for some reason, we’re still getting frequent reports of sexual violence occurring regardless.
However on April 11th, there was a slightly different message in our inboxes, from one from Julian Williams, Vice President of Compliance, Diversity and Ethics.
Apparently, Mason’s Title IX policy is in the process of being reworked.
What is Title IX you ask (since the email fails to let us know)?
Well, it is a law that was passed in 1972, requiring gender equity for males and females in any educational program with federal funding . According to Williams’ email, the reason for Mason changing their particular policy is because the university wants to “make the process less burdensome for students and to encourage victims of sexual violence to step forward,”. By adjusting the policies, procedures, investigation and adjudication processes regarding student sexual violence and harassment, Mason is attempting to fulfill its “legal and moral obligation to conduct fair, thorough and prompt investigations of sexual violence and harassment reports”. Maybe what they ned to try to be fulfilling though, are their obligations to keep students safe.
Furthermore, the changing of Title IX is not a new advancement brought on by the recent rise in sexual assault reports; this process has been in the works for the past two years… And it’s still not finished.
So, while it is notable that Mason is doing something positive for this issue, is it really enough?
Because I don’t know about you, but I would like to see a few less Timely Warnings in the near future.
**Featured Image from police.gmu.edu