According to the Hunting Ground Documentary, one out of five college students experience sexual assault on college campuses. The U.S. News and World Reports projects Youngstown State University will have 12,643 students in 2019. If we account for female students, over 1,264 YSU students will be sexually assaulted. This does not take into account the female staff and faculty, who also deal with sexual harassment and assault.
In September, we learned about a YSU student who was raped on campus and a male professor charged with sexually harassing several of his female students. Throughout this period, YSU has no safe space for sexual assault survivors to go.
This becomes quite clear from a fiscal perspective. YSU is one of the only two Ohio public universities who do not have Women’s Centers. Below is a sample of Ohio public universities that do:
- University of Cincinnati’s UC Women’s Center (1978-) receives over $288,000 annually.
- Wright State University’s Women’s Center (1993-) receives over $208,000 annually.
- Ohio University’s The Women’s Center (2007-) receives over $180,000 annually.
- Kent State University’s The Women’s Center (1996-) receives $170,000 annually.
- Cleveland State University’s The Mareyjoyce Green Women’s Center (1967/2010-) receives $82,000 annually.
For the 2018-2019 academic year, every YSU student pays $9,259 in tuition and fees. YSU devotes $1,000 of every student’s tuition and fees to athletics. Student athletes represent less than one percent of the student population.
In order for YSU to afford a Women and Gender Resource Center, they would need to devote $6.50 of every student’s tuition and fees to match the lowest annual budget from Cleveland State University. Female students represent 51 percent of the student population.
Over the last decade and into this year, YSU provided $2,000 to the Women and Gender Studies Committee. This is $80,000 less than the lowest amount; this funding comes without a safe space, counselor or any other crucial resources that a Women and Gender Resource Center would provide.
On Oct. 22, 2018, the YSU community received an electronic message from Kelly Beers, the new director of the YSU Title IX Office. Beers explained the email was to respond to “recent campus discussions about sexual and relationship violence on college campuses and YSU’s responses to these serious events.”
The “recent campus discussions,” refers to a letter delivered to President Jim Tressel and Interim Provost Joseph Mosca on their failure to follow through on YSU’s July 2017 promise to create a Women and Gender Resource Center.
After waiting over a year, the Women and Gender Resource Initiative requested that this much-needed space happen before Oct. 19. The administration never responded.
Instead of responding, the administration had the new Title IX director Ms. Beers respond to the whole community,
Any belief that YSU is ignoring sexual violence and thereby contributing, even indirectly, to incidents of sexual violence on campus is a dangerous misconception that can adversely impact campus reporting and safety. Such a narrative reinforces the misplaced belief that “nothing will ever happen” and further isolates and stigmatizes victims.
This response is a poor defense of the administration’s sexist attitude and treatment of its female population. A Title IX Office is not a substitution for a Women’s Center.
Moreover, when a college president:
- hires a nationally renowned sexist coach,
- advocates for a rapist to play on the college football team,
- worsens the male-female faculty salary disparity during his term, and
- refuses to provide the promised resources for over 50% of the student campus,
the appropriate institutional response for a public university is not to argue that charges against YSU are “dangerous misconceptions.” The appropriate response is to make amends.