Dozens of Virginia Tech students rallied on the steps of Burruss Hall on Tuesday demanding the administration address the recent spike in sexual harassment cases on campus.
Since classes began a month ago, the Tech Police Department has received more than five reports of sexual assault at university-sponsored events, including football games.
In a letter to university administration, members of the student activist group United Feminist Movement criticized the school’s current Title IX policies, demanding more sweeping systemic changes to support assault victims. Students also demanded resources for anonymous reporting of sexual abuse incidents.
Protesters claimed sexual violence has been a recurring problem on campus and the university has done little to ensure the safety of students.
Those in attendance held signs such as “No Means No,” “Am I Next?” and the more elaborate “Why are more people expelled for plagiarism than sexual assault?”
Students are starting to speak and chant now: pic.twitter.com/P6TfQyjmgj
— Annie Schroeder (@WSLSAnnie) September 28, 2021
Attendees also shared some of their experiences, explaining how the university did not take appropriate action against the perpetrators.
“Sexual violence is not a new problem at Virginia Tech,” graduate student Larissa Schneider told The Roanoke Times. “Virginia Tech knows there’s a problem. They’ve known this is a problem for a long time.”
Schneider, who is also the education chair of UFM, sent a letter to President Tim Sands, Dean of Students Byron Hughes, and other senior officials complimenting some of the Title IX initiatives launched by the university but demanding more comprehensive measures to combat sexual abuse on campus.
On September 23, President Sands released a letter to the Blacksburg campus community, promising swift action in tackling sexual violence on campus. He also promised that the university will provide adequate resources and support measures to assist victims.
“We are committed to taking your report seriously. We are committed to upholding university policy, and through fair and impartial means, holding those who perpetrate sexual assault accountable,” Sands wrote.