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UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green pledges to do more on sexual misconduct training, to support survivors

UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green pledges to do more on sexual misconduct training, to support survivors

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UNL protest, 08.26

Protesters hold banners outside the Phi Gamma Delta house at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln on Aug. 26.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green on Wednesday evening told leaders of the university’s student government that he was committed to helping to prevent sexual assault on campus.

Green shared a number of immediate steps he said UNL will take to protect students, faculty and staff and to support victims of sexual misconduct.

The detailed list includes better and mandated training for students, a response to students’ concerns about the inadequacy of existing sexual misconduct training. By the end of the spring 2022 semester the university will be adding in-person sexual misconduct training for all students via a peer-mentor approach.

Furthermore, the chancellor said UNL will add a director of education on sexual misconduct to the Center for Advocacy Response & Education (CARE), as well as look into adding additional mental health support and resources for students.

By the end of the school year, Green said they are hoping to move the LGBTQ+ center, the women’s center and the CARE office into Neihardt Hall, providing additional space for added resources.

Ronnie Green mug (copy)

Green

“These actions are just first steps based on what I’ve heard from students, faculty and staff,” Green said. “I am committed to doing more and to having an ongoing dialogue with students across our campus community.”

Students and demonstrators gathered five times over recent nights to protest after an alleged sexual assault was reported to campus police, although leaders on Wednesday called for a two-week break.

Protesters, once a united group of mostly students, first gathered outside the Phi Gamma Delta house on Aug. 24 after a 17-year-old UNL student told campus police she was sexually assaulted by a 19-year-old member of the fraternity earlier that morning.

On four consecutive nights last week — and again at a candlelight vigil on Monday — demonstrators gathered at or near the Fiji house, calling for the fraternity’s permanent removal and for other sweeping changes that would address what organizers say is a campus culture that promotes sexual assault.

But after Tuesday night’s planned gathering was shifted online 30 minutes before it was set to take place, and after organizer Dominique Liu-Sang announced a two-week break in protests altogether, a separate group emerged, vowing to continue nightly gatherings.

“We’re losing our chance to really make a difference in the national spotlight,” UNL sophomore Carter Wenburg told the Journal Star on Wednesday.

Wenburg, acting alone for now in his role as organizer of the divergent group, gathered in front of the fraternity with a small group of people on Wednesday night.

His announcement came less than 30 minutes after Liu-Sang, who has been among the most vocal organizers at UNL over the last week, announced to her followers that all protests would be suspended until Sept. 15.

Liu-Sang’s post came about two hours before demonstrators had planned to stage a sit-in at Canfield Hall, which houses UNL’s administrative offices. In the post, Liu-Sang, who did not respond to a request for comment, said organizers were falling behind on schoolwork and taking time off to reexamine their message, which she said isn’t only about Fiji.

“That has been overlooked,” she said in the post.

Green temporarily suspended Fiji — already on probation for previous violations of university policy — on Aug. 25, about 36 hours after the sexual assault was reported. In the days since, a sexual assault was reported to have happened at the Sigma Chi fraternity, mere blocks away from the Fiji house.

Demonstrations evolved in the days after Green announced Fiji’s suspension, focusing less on the fraternity and more on survivors of sexual assault. After masses of student-protesters spent the first two nights of demonstrations largely directing chants at the Fiji house, last Thursday’s protest saw a notable shift in tone.

Wenburg, though, said he hopes to restore protests to the energy and attendance levels seen in the first two nights. On Aug. 25, more than 1,000 attendees marched through UNL’s downtown Lincoln campus, chanting expletives aimed at university leaders, the fraternity and the 19-year-old student accused of rape.

“I want to make sure Fiji knows that they’re not off the hook,” said Wenburg. “But, in a broader sense, I want the rest of Greek life and the university to know that they’re not off the hook, either.”


Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or awegley@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @andrewwegley

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