Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Valentine's Day Bingo
February 24, 2024

Give the task force a chance

Following the Sexual Assault forum last term, a temporary task force was created, headed by chair Dr. Jennifer Popple. I, like many students on campus, are curious about how much change the task force and the organizations associated with it can create on this campus.
The task force was created due to the number of concerns and questions the students had with the Title IX policies. It is meant to be a short-term organization, and its main goal, according to the campus-wide email and Popple, is to choose a law firm that can assess the school’s Title IX rules and regulations. Beyond that, Popple “[wants] to know what the students want to know.” She states, “my top goal is to get information from students about what their [overarching] concerns are.”
One of the concerns I had about the task force was why it wasn’t created earlier. Of course, this task force was put together in response to all the students’ recent concerns, but I would think that in order for our school to consider its Title IX policies and procedures it would not need students to go to the lengths that they had to in order to be heard.
I believe Popple and the rest of the task force would agree with that as they have made the students their priority. The task force is in the process of choosing a law firm, but it is going to do that while continuously considering everything the students have to say.
Thus far, Popple has tried her best to put together a task force that best represents the student body. Before the task force had come to fruition, Popple said she had worked with President Steve Bahls to find members that include Michael Rogers from the Office of Multicultural Student Life, Ariel Rogers from Residential Life, and various students from different parts of campus.
Working along with the task force is the Campus Victim Advocacy Working Group (CVAWG), which is advised by Dr. Lena Hann and Dr. Alex Cohen. According to Hann, the CVAWG is researching the best ways to create a victim advocacy program at Augustana,  “where an Augustana student could opt to have a trained victim advocate (who is also an Augustana student) accompany them through the medical, legal, or Title IX process if they want. . . [it] would be another resource available to survivors of sexual assault.”
Though the task force and the CVAWG have different goals, both are determined to make the needs and concerns of the students their focus.
I am curious to see how much change we can really see on this campus, and I am willing to give the task force a chance to do its job to the best of its ability. The creation of the task force and CVAWG has showed me that the greatest change that can come to this school is through the students, and I think the task force is honoring that truth by practicing as much transparency as possible. I, and hopefully other students, will hold the task force to this promise.

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Give the task force a chance