Students to phone in opinions

By Matt Gilbert

Are laws protecting women on campus effective? Is there a need for new legislation protecting women from violent crime?

The Student Association is going to provide NIU with a chance to ask the U.S. Congress for answers to these questions today and Friday in the King Memorial Commons as part of Campus Crime Prevention Week.

A United States Student Association position paper from last March cited a study that stated one of every four college women is attacked by a rapist before she graduates, and one of seven is raped.

Cellular phones provided by United States Cellular will give students a direct line to the office of U.S. Congressman Dennis Hastert, (R-Yorkville), with an opportunity to voice their opinions about the Violence Against Women Act now pending in Congress.

In case of rain, the call-in will move to the Holmes Student Center in the hallway between the Center Cafe and Diversions.

The call-in is being organized by SA Students Political Education and Action Committee (SPEAC) chair Maura Jandris. Jandris supports passage of the bill.

“We’re going to flood his office with calls and make him aware that this is an issue that’s important to students.

“When women are afraid to walk by themselves, they don’t really have equal access to education. I think we need to take proactive steps to make the campus environment safer for everyone,” Jandris said.

She said students who cannot call in or do not live in this congressional district but still want to voice their support for the bill, are invited to stop by the call-in table and pick up information about the legislation and information about how to write a letter of support to their congressman.

According to the position paper, the act is a comprehensive bill designed to improve safety for women in the streets, in the homes and on college campuses. It provides funding for better law enforcement, prosecution and data collection regarding violence against women.

It more than triples the funding for battered womens’ shelters and provides funding for the education of state and federal judges about violence against women.

The bill also includes provisions for the establishment of a national domestic violence hotline and increased prison sentencing for “repeat” sex offenders convicted in federal courts.

At the time of the USSA press release, the bill had just included provisions for protection for immigrant women and a campus safety section requiring the Attorney General to study the scope of the problem of campus sexual assaults and the effectiveness of campus police and actions safeguarding students and survivors.