|Central Virginia Community College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Governor Terry McAuliffe today signed Executive Order 25 establishing a new task force, chaired by Attorney General Mark Herring, to help combat sexual violence on college campuses. The Governor and the Attorney General also signed a Joint Declaration with all 16 Virginia public colleges and universities and the Virginia Community College System acknowledging the partnership and shared commitment to improving how each institution addresses cases of sexual assault and expanding sexual assault prevention training on campus.
These actions have received praise from leaders across the Commonwealth:
Senator Tom Garrett, Louisa:
“I applaud Governor McAuliffe for his efforts to ensure safety at Virginia’s colleges and universities. I commend the administration and Virginia colleges and universities for partnering to make Virginia a leader in this area and to be on the forefront of sexual violence awareness, prevention, and response.”
Senator Janet Howell, Northern Fairfax County:
“Gov. McAuliffe and the Attorney General are wise to bring together state leaders to coordinate responses to this pervasive problem. Families can be confident that everything possible will be done to identify and implement ways to make college students safe.”
Delegate Rosalyn Dance, Petersburg:
"As the Honorary Regional Chairwoman of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, I am extremely pleased that Governor McAuliffe and the Attorney General are utilizing their offices to address this important issue across the Commonwealth."
Delegate Jennifer McClellan, Richmond:
“Today, the Governor and the Attorney General take a step forward in reaffirming and ensuring that Virginia college campuses are safe places to learn and grow. I am extremely pleased that Virginia is a leader in bringing higher education leaders, law enforcement, and legislators together to recommend best practices for combating sexual assault.”
Delegate Vivian Watts, Fairfax:
“I am pleased that Governor McAuliffe and our stakeholders will work together with our college administrators and authorities to bring awareness and identify best practices to combat sexual violence on our college campuses. I commend his efforts to maintain and promote positive learning atmospheres at our Virginia institutions of higher education.”
Emily Renda – UVA graduate, student activist:
“Governor McAuliffe's office is providing an environment for best practices to emerge. Many advocates and administrators on campus feel as though we're working in isolation and struggling with our own set of issues, when the reality is that our challenges are very much the same. The opportunity to work across the state offers the chance to share in this work to strengthen our responses as a whole.”
Rosemary Trible – Founder of Fear 2 Freedom:
“Paul and I have been at CNU for 18 years. We are proud to be united today with other presidents to take a stand in combating sexual violence on our campuses. I believe this generation is our hope to change the cultural understanding of this issue. Together we can bring about change, hope and healing, one person at a time.”
John Jones – Executive Director Virginia Sheriffs’ Association:
"Sexual violence on campuses should be treated as violent crimes, as they are in any community. Transparency and cooperation with local primary law enforcement agencies are an important component of combating this problem. No citizen, whether a student or not, should feel isolated from the best law enforcement services Virginia has to provide. The Virginia Sheriffs' Association stands ready to assist in implementing the agreement signed by the Governor, Attorney General and Virginia college and university administrators."
Chief John A. Venuti – Virginia Commonwealth University Chief of Police:
“The prevention of sexual assault, violence, harassment, and misconduct of any kind remains a top priority for Virginia Commonwealth University. I am pleased to see Governor McAuliffe and the Attorney General taking steps and action to shift the paradigm, raise awareness, and renew the focus on eliminating sexual violence on Virginia's college campuses.”
Tom Kramer – Executive Director, Virginia21:
“It’s clear that sexual assault on college campuses is an issue that concerns many students. We’re glad to see college leaders, the governor, his administration, and the attorney general commit to work together - sharing resources and best practices - instead of pointing fingers. We look forward to being a part of the conversations to come.”
Dana Schrad – Executive Director, Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police/Virginia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators:
“College/University police must foster the safest environment possible and work closely with administrators, faculty and staff to be certain students are confident enough in them to report incidents of sex abuse. Then they must investigate each and every report vigorously and thoroughly, working with local and state authorities if needed. Undue feelings of shame and fear of not being believed or taken seriously must not be allowed to prolong victimization. I applaud the Governor for taking a proactive approach in establishing this Taskforce and bringing all stakeholders together to address any campus sexual misconduct concerns.”
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