Petition letter calls for significant changes in UofA’s approach to sexual violence

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The University of Arkansas is still fielding questions about its response to sexual assault survivors. Some campus leaders distributed a public petition letter calling for significant changes in this area.

The petition letter was signed by Gillian Gullett, who said she was a victim of sexual assault when she was a student at the UofA. Last week, the university settled on a $20,000 figure with a former student who said administrators mishandled a sexual assault claim against him. Gullett said this “John Doe” was the person who raped her.

Julia Nall, the 2020-21 student body president, signed the letter, as did the incoming president.

“This is obviously something that has been impacting our campus community for a long time,” Nall said. “We thought this would be a really good way to engage a lot of the people who are passionate about doing something.”

The letter calls for the university to donate $20,001 to an organization that supports survivors, implement the Callisto app to track people who’ve been accused of sexual violence, expand the Title IX office and keep victims current on lawsuits that involve them.

“All of that is feasible and well within the limits of what the university can do,” Nall said.

Nall said making internal decisions shouldn’t be too hard and would ultimately make the campus safer.

“Looking at those [changes,] I think, should be administration’s No. 1 priority,” Nall said, noting there are other important topics like racism that also need to be addressed.

Nall said it’ll likely take a while, but simply not letting up can be the difference.

“It’s about applying pressure, and that’s where I think student, faculty and staff voices come in,” Nall said.

In response to the petition letter, KNWA/Fox24 was sent this statement attributable to spokesperson Mark Rushing:

The University of Arkansas endeavors for a campus free from sexual violence. The university’s goals and actions align with those recommended in the petition, including increasing Title IX resources and staffing dedicated to prevention and training, case management and investigations. A student advisory committee, put on temporary hiatus this academic year, will reconvene in the fall.

Mark Rushing, UA Spokesperson

Nall said the pressure won’t let up soon.

“We’re still here,” Nall said. “We’re expecting this, and we’re pushing for it to happen in a timely manner.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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