UI Senate endorses boosting funding for Women's Resources Center

UI Senate endorses boosting funding for Women's Resources Center

URBANA — A proposal to devote more resources to help students and employees affected by sexual misconduct was endorsed overwhelmingly by the University of Illinois Academic Senate on Monday.

By a vote of 111-1, senators approved a resolution urging the campus to hire more confidential advocates at the Women's Resources Center, often a first stop for victims of sexual harassment or sexual violence.

The center currently has two staff members who serve the entire campus, in addition to other duties. Administrators recently approved funds to hire two more to handle a rising case-load in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Faculty supporters said more are needed, particularly advocates who have experience working with populations considered more vulnerable to sexual misconduct — international and undocumented students, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities or those from underrepresented groups. The resolution calls for placing advocates in cultural centers and other areas around campus to reduce any barriers that could keep people from seeking help.

Currently, the wait time to see an advocate is five to seven days, except in emergencies.

The resolution also urges more funding for the campus Faculty and Staff Assistance Program and for graduate students and nontenured faculty members facing sexual misconduct — who aren't protected by tenure — and the appointment of a university-wide ombudsperson to help survivors of harassment and assault.

Unofficial report

Also Monday, officials said this year's Unofficial St. Patrick's Day event resulted in 28 tickets for alcohol-related offenses and just one arrest — someone trying to intervene with another person getting a ticket, said campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler.

Eleven people were transported to the hospital for drinking-related issues, but no serious injuries, she said.

The number of tickets issued was far below the last few years — 57 in 2018 and 114 the year before.

"All the numbers were down, which is good," Kaler said, adding that officers said "it didn't look any busier than any normal Friday evening."