SEGway (Survivor Empowerment group), a relatively new organization on campus dealing with sexual assault awareness and victim advocacy, met with members of the Students’ Association (SA) Policy and Review Committee on Wednesday, Oct. 1, regarding their current status in the SA approval process. Their proposal remains tabled while Policy and Review investigates possible legal barriers to approval.
For members of SEGway, the opportunity to become an SA-recognized organization offers several potential advantages, including member recruitment, access to room reservations, and funding for their popular “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event.
“We want to be able to work more closely with the student body than being a group from outside of it and trying to get at the student body,” SEGway vice president and sophomore Hannah Greenwald said in an email. “Having a club like this on our campus that is recognized and supported by the school can only help the school.”
SEGway first applied for preliminary status as an SA-recognized organization last February but was not successful. A final decision was tabled indefinitely.
According to Policy and Review Committee Chair and junior Ethan Bidna, the minutes from February’s meeting were never found, creating problems for follow-up with SEGway.
At last Wednesday’s meeting, the 14 Policy and Review committee members reevaluated SEGway’s petition,but did not issue a decision because of concerns regarding the possible liabilities of a student-run sexual assault survivor empowerment group.
In an interview, Bidna expressed his support for SEGway’s mission, which Greenwald characterized as “support[ing] survivors of sexual assault by being a SEGway to resources, as well as talking about issues that would otherwise be seen as taboo.”
“[SEGway] gave what I personally thought was an excellent presentation,” Bidna said.
He noted, however, some of the concerns currently under consideration by his committee.
“As an SA group you have to be 100 percent awareness-based,” he said. “You can’t work with survivors. [In an organization] dealing with survivor empowerment and sexual assault, you are infinitely more likely to deal with people.”
Currently, SEGway is a University Health Service (UHS)-affiliated organization,
which means that UHS staff are directly involved in the organization’s function. Current leadership has received training on sexual assault prevention as well as information about various campus resources and policies. SEGway works closely with UHS health educator Melissa Kelley and Title IX Coordinator Morgan Levy, along with other UHS staff members.
Bidna acknowledged that while the current staff may have the necessary qualifications to accept the potential responsibilities, future leadership of the group may not.
“We have to make sure that future leadership in SEGway is as responsible as I know the current leadership will be,” he said. “We […] have to think about the future and how we can protect this group in the future.”
Greenwald thinks that SA recognition would help ensure the organization’s longevity.
“It is important to be SA-recognized as a part of the student body and have the ability to be independent, instead of being a club through UHS, [where we] might not have as devoted people in the future,” she said.
She also suggested that the relationship between SEGway and UHS would remain strong. SEGway’s situation would differ primarily in the access to campus resources, like room reservations and budget.
Because of the question regarding potential liabilities, Bidna has instructed his committee to meet with their advisor with specific questions. Bidna also established a timeline of one month, within which questions must be answered and addressed with SEGway.
Remus is a member
of the class of 2016.