University of Iowa activism becomes national call to action

By Alan Scher Zagier and Ryan J. Foley As much as any college administrator could be, University of Iowa President Sally Mason was prepared for the growing nationwide pressure to curb campus sexual assaults. An experienced leader with a calm but determined approach, Mason had taken steps that made the 30,000-student university a model on the issue. Following a high-profile assault involving football players in 2007, Mason hired an administrator to coordinate help for victims and mandated prevention training for employees. And she had personal experience, having to fight off an assailant while an undergraduate in 1970. Yet one statement she made last month—that ending sexual assault was probably unrealistic “just given human nature and that’s unfortunate”—ignited a firestorm. A student group called it a hurtful remark that exemplified the university’s insensitivity. Mason quickly apologized and held a student forum on the issue, but she was still chastised by the university’s governing board and directed to improve communication with its members. “It amazes us that, given the nature and scope of sexual assault on campuses, students are not gathering to shut down institutions that do not aggressively confront these crimes. Yes, we understand it would mean most colleges would come to a stand still, but it may be the only way to force administrators to take the matter seriously. Call us what you want, but what other action has worked? This whole paying-colleges-for-an-education-but-being-physically-brutalized-in-the-process-and-no-one-wants-to-do-anything-about-it-so-it-just-goes-on-and-on thing hasn’t been very effective.” Read the entire article here:

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