December 8, 2016

Webster sexual assault policy needs drastic reform

By Mackie Saylor, Webster University alumna 

Carry That Weight

Photo by Natalie Martinez

As a recent and proud alumna, I am concerned Webster University is not doing enough to protect its students against sexual assault.

During my time at Webster, I was a member of the Conservatory of Theatre Arts, graduating with both academic and departmental honors. I was a leader in my class work, performances and as a fundraising representative for our national showcases in New York City and Los Angeles. I have always admired the Webster faculty and staff for encouraging students to think progressively and positively impact their communities and their world.

However, I have been extremely disappointed with what I have been seeing on social media and what I have been hearing from students. Photos on Instagram showing students being escorted to class by Public Safety because they don’t feel safe on their own campus. Facebook posts about students carrying a mattress across campus because they don’t feel their voices have been enough. Texts from former classmates and current students explaining how a friend and colleague was assaulted on campus and her assailant is still attending classes.

Carry That Weight

Photo by Natalie Martinez

This is the news I am hearing out of Webster Groves.

This news does not make me proud of my alma mater. It makes me scared for Webster students and it makes me angry, sad and disgusted.

I have always admired you, President Elizabeth Stroble. I heard you speak at scholarship dinners, yearly gatherings and graduation ceremonies. I shook your hand and thanked you for the opportunities I was given at Webster—opportunities I am still grateful for. But now I am also urging you.

I am urging you to act. I am urging you to listen to the needs of your students and take drastic change. I am urging you to protect your students from an issue that is affecting every college in the country.

Online classes aren’t enough. Title IX education is not enough. I am urging you to reevaluate the outcomes and sanctions of recent student hearings regarding sexual assault and act in favor of the safety and well-being of your students.

In the last 100 years, Webster University has given students like me life-changing experiences. Please give every student at Webster that same opportunity by eradicating sexual assault in Webster’s next century. It’s on us. All of us.

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