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Duke SHAPE discusses its mission, expansion before DSG Senate

<p>Duke Student Government senators heard from Duke SHAPE, which aims to combat sexual assault and harassment, at their Wednesday meeting.&nbsp;</p>

Duke Student Government senators heard from Duke SHAPE, which aims to combat sexual assault and harassment, at their Wednesday meeting. 

Duke Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention and Education filled Duke Student Government senators in on its mission at the Senate’s Wednesday meeting. 

Junior Eden Schumer, SHAPE’s co-founder and director of sexual violence prevention and awareness, along with SHAPE co-directors De’Ja Wood and Katie Lustig, both seniors, discussed the role of SHAPE and its current work.

According to their presentation to the Senate, SHAPE is a student movement working to combat sexual assault and harassment at Duke. The aims of the initiative are to listen, educate and create positive tangible change to make Duke a safe place for all students and staff.

“We seek to build a space that is prevention-focused, not just response,” Wood said, including advocating for accountability, elevating the voices of students and survivors, and creating “tangible change or… action items that can actually impact student lives day to day.”

SHAPE began last year as a campaign from the Campus Life committee to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of sexual violence—on a campus where 48% of female undergraduates who responded to a 2016 Duke survey said they had been sexually assaulted during their time at the University. The campaign worked with student groups, campus centers and academic departments in order to create a week of programming. After SHAPE Week, the campaign evolved into an organization that desired to address sexual violence at its roots in all of its forms.

Currently, SHAPE has 30 members and is divided into three sections: prevention, education and response. Members are then divided into projects. Some of the projects the initiative are working on this semester include Duke in COVID-19, democratizing info about sexual violence at Duke, syllabus revisions and Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Additionally, SHAPE is currently working on a website that compiles information regarding sexual misconduct at Duke, including how to file a report, how to get involved in making change, understanding policy and supporting friends or family members.

In other business:

The Office of Government Relations gave a presentation during the meeting. Associate Vice President Chris Simmons discussed the role of the office in coordinating with the Duke in D.C. office and pushing for Duke’s priorities in Congress. The main issues that the office deals with, according to Simmons, are student aid, loans, grants and academic research. Immigration, tax policy, support for veterans and intellectual property have also been priorities in the past.

The DSG Senate voted to charter a Duke chapter of 100 Black Men of America and de-chartered or de-recognized 34 organizations. According to sophomore Drew Flanagan, chair of the Student Organization Finance Committee, all of these organizations were sent more than 10 communications to re-register and demonstrate willingness to be active during the semester but failed to respond. If a de-chartered group desires to become recognized and chartered again, the members must start from the beginning of the process like those of any group that hasn’t been recognized or chartered before. 

Six senators were also confirmed during the meeting: first-year Aashna Sawhney, sophomore Luke Vermeer, sophomore Dan King, junior Meghna Mahadevan, junior Nehal Jain, and sophomore Hana Hendi. Updated Senate House Rules saw their first reading and passed. 

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