Last week, American University students learned that the university administration refused to sign off on an application that could funnel $300,000 to the school to fund sexual assault prevention on campus. After failing to convince the administration to budge in a campus meeting last night, protests began in earnest this morning. The Department of Justice Violence Against Women Act grant would have been due today.
Leigh Ellis, an AU senior who worked on the grant application committee for the better part of the last year, reports that student activists dropped banners like this one (below) in three buildings on campus.The banner reads: "400 AU students sexually assaulted per year. VAWA now."
Ellis adds that there "about 40 students" currently staging a sit-in in the office of Dr. Gail Short Hanson, the American University vice president who refused to authorize the grant application, citing concerns over forcing students to attend sexual assault trainings. Ellis says the students have given up on hopes that American University will authorize the grant to be submitted in this year's cycle. Sitters have "agreed to sit and wait until Dr. Hanson agrees in writing to host an open forum" on campus sexual assault prevention in the fall.
UPDATE: Ellis says she's got it from Hanson in writing that she will "work with students and the campus life staff to develop a comprehensive plan of action" on sexual assault over the next year, including holding an open forum to present that plan by Oct. 15.