Virginia Tech Launches 21-Member Task Force to Address Campus Sexual Violence

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) – Students at Virginia Tech have called on university leaders to tackle the rise in sexual violence on campus this year, including hundreds who gathered at Burruss Hall five weeks ago to protest.

On Thursday morning, President Tim Sands announced a 21-member task force to examine the culture and climate of sexual violence on campus.

“We are at their side. We understand what they went through and we want to make the world a better place and that’s what today’s announcement is. It is a step, an additional step, which is part of an ongoing process to achieve this ideal, ”said university spokesperson Mark Owczarski.

Owczarski said the task force is the result of years of work on this issue. He also said that there had been more cases of sexual violence this year and that was unacceptable.

“We agree with the students that we need to do whatever we can to change our culture.”

Sophomore Mary Weeks, treasurer of the United Feminist Movement at Tech, said the university still needs to do more.

“We are grateful for everything they are trying to do, but we believe it is not enough.”

Weeks said they were also not consulted prior to the group’s announcement, despite sending an open letter weeks ago asking for a task force to be established. They also don’t feel represented, as there are only a few undergraduates out of the 21-member group that President Sands has assembled.

“We are the ones affected, the undergraduates. That’s why we think we really need representation.

Weeks said they will continue to push for the change and draft a letter to send to the Visitors’ Council, which will meet this weekend.

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