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Code of conduct rape provisions better late than never

By Wildcat Opinions Board
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
April 14, 2000
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Assistant Dean of Students Veda Hunn presented provisions to the UA code of conduct Wednesday night that should have been written and approved decades ago.

She presented the Associated Students' Senate with proposed changes to the code of conduct that would prohibit sexual misconduct - defined as "engaging in sexual misconduct, including but not limited to engaging in such misconduct with a person who has not given consent or who is legally unable to consent."

And it's about time.

It's about time the university specifically addressed the needs of rape victims, especially those who are too uncomfortable - and straight-out frightened - to go to the police or withstand the distress of a trial.

It's also about time students recognize the need for such a provision.

ASUA Sen. Tiffany Podbielski argued that the provision is too broad and said the university does not have the means to properly investigate rape cases.

But according to Hunn, documentation, witnesses and any contribution is involved in any code of conduct investigation, and that would extend to any sexual assault investigation.

Some ASUA senators are also wary of the implications a code of conduct investigation would have on alleged perpetrators - particularly expulsion from all three state universities.

But the investigation does not have to call for a scarlet letter sewn on suspected violators. There are steps between blatant lack of punishment and full-on expulsion, such as counseling for both the victim and suspect.

It's obvious the student body recognizes danger on campus. Every 24 hours, the ASUA Escort Service chauffeurs between 200 and 300 students to their late-night destinations - 200 to 300 students who acknowledge the impending danger of campus night life.

According to the University of Arizona Police Department's annual campus safety and security report released last week, of the 11 rapes reported since 1995, only one person was arrested.

Ten alleged rapists in the UA community, whether they are still dangers to society or not, have gone unpunished. Statistically speaking, fewer sexual assaults are reported than not - sometimes due solely on the nature of the crime.

This leaves even more sexual predators unpunished and opens up the possibility of repeat offenses.

The university provides rape victims with a shoulder to lean on in the UA's Oasis Center for Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence. But they need to prove to students that rape is not allowed at the University of Arizona - and that is precisely what the proposed provision will achieve.

All students are affected by sexual assault - whether they are victims, assailants or those who are uneasy walking home at night. Likewise, the code of conduct affects each UA student by asserting what is and is not acceptable at the university.

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