UISG President Hira Mustafa, speaks in an interview with The Daily Iowan in Adler Journalism Building on Wednesday, March 21, 2018. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Letter to the Editor: UISG president on recent online harassment

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To the University of Iowa Student Body,

In light of the recent experiences with sexual misconduct brought to light on social media regarding a University of Iowa student, I want to first and foremost say to the victims and survivors that I believe you. It takes overwhelming amounts of courage to speak up about the issue of sexual misconduct, which I know from personal experience, so I applaud the bravery of those coming forward and sharing their stories. I also want to recognize those who have been affected but are not able to speak out about their experiences. I stand with you as well. I hear you, and I will continue seeking justice in the process for survivors.

In response to the DI article and a Twitter thread that went viral, I have been in contact with UI officials to ensure that the reports are being taken seriously. Tweets or posts made online do not constitute an official report, and therefore, they cannot be used as evidence in a case. Sexual-misconduct cases are difficult to fight, especially because so often there is not enough evidence to take legal action.

I encourage those who have been impacted to reach out to Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP, 319-335-6000) to speak confidentially about their experience and decide whether they wish to file a report with the Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator. RVAP explains all the options survivors have and can also provide an advocate to go with them should they choose to report. With more reports, the university can build a stronger case, and action can be taken more quickly. This being said, I support survivors in any way they choose to move forward and am here to listen.

While the investigation is underway, the University of Iowa Student Government will continue to take action. I have reached out to the Sexual Misconduct Response Office to discuss how we can make the reporting process more transparent and accessible to survivors, and I will meet with students who were affected next week to discuss how we can be proactive about these instances in the future. UISG has created an anonymous survey for students to provide feedback on their experiences reporting so that we can look into the process and ensure that all cases are being taken seriously. UISG will also continue to participate in the Antiviolence Coalition to implement the three-year plan to tackle sexual misconduct on our campus.

Thank you again to all those that have spoken up about, been engaged with, and continued fighting for this issue. Every voice is important, and we are stronger together. I am available to anyone who would like to speak with me or my team about their experience, and how we can move forward. My administration and I will continue to use our voices to give students a platform to speak for themselves, combat this problem, and improve the response process for victims and survivors. I stand with you and will continue to do so.

Sincerely,

Hira Mustafa

UI Undergraduate Student Body President

 

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