Petition to address sexual assault

A petition calling for Valparaiso University President Mark Heckler to “make a public pledge to wipe out campus sexual assault” has recently been circulating as a sponsored ad on Facebook.

This petition is being run by an organization called Breakthrough U.S.

According to the organization’s website, their mission is “to prevent violence against women by transforming the norms and cultures that enable it.”

Breakthrough U.S. focuses on ending discrimination, especially against girls and women, and works to end sexual violence in the United States and India, domestically, internationally and on college campuses.

The petition to Hecker is a part of the organization’s “Dear President” campaign.

“Breakthrough is calling on college presidents to create a legacy of making campus sexual violence unacceptable,” according to their website.

So far, the “Dear President” campaign has reached 19 college campuses across the nation, including Valpo.

The petition from Breakthrough U.S. to Heckler is identical to those sent to the presidents of the other 18 universities which have become involved in this campaign.

The petition here takes the form of a letter addressed to Heckler.

“Dear President Heckler, we want our school to stand as a beacon of campus safety...To be successful, we must know that our safety here is a priority,” the letter reads.

The letter goes on to remind Heckler that “sexual violence is an epidemic from which no university is immune.”

It urges Heckler to commit to four main goals to “wipe out” sexual assault:

“1. Implementing comprehensive and sustained sexual assault prevention programming.

2. Investing in compassionate sexual assault response services for survivors

3. Evaluating our school for any trace of rape culture and take reformative steps

4. Full transparency as your administration works to create a culture of safety, security and support for all students.”

The petition not only raises demands for Heckler, but promises him support.

“We are proud of our school and proud of you. We want to support your efforts and work toward a solution to this pervasive, seemingly systemic, issue,” the letter reads.

As of Thursday, 51 people were “engaged” with this petition, which needs 149 more signatures.

Along with the “Dear President” campaign, Breakthrough U.S. is running campaigns to end sexual harassment in public, violence against women in pop culture and domestic violence.

Breakthrough also runs campaigns in India, focusing on domestic violence, early marriage, gender-based sex selection and sexual harassment there.

Contact Jessica Moon at torchnews@valpo.edu.

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