Federal Agencies Respond to Campus Sexual Violence

By Nowmee Shehab

As Spring arrives, bushes and benches across Emory’s campus are festooned with teal ribbons and balloons to mark Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Emory’s efforts join a nationwide plan to observe SAAM by raising public awareness about sexual violence and educating communities on how to prevent it. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center coordinates these widespread efforts and actively collaborates with local and national anti-violence organizations.

This past year has been an incredible one for awareness and organizing around sexual violence prevention, and Emory’s efforts are accompanied by a huge push on the federal level. So what exactly is new at the federal level? I did a quick round-up of important federal legislation and campaigns that have together moved the national conversation forward.

  • The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault published Not Alone, its first report, which details best practices for preventing and responding to campus sexual violence. President Obama launched the It’s On Us campaign which created national attention for campus sexual violence prevention through PSAs and pooled partner organizations to amplify this message. Here is a PSA that features both President Obama and Vice President Biden  
  • Campus Save Act: This act, that updates the Clery Act improves transparency by requiring schools to report a broader range of sexual violence incidents occurring on campus, while also improving the complaint process so victims know their rights and are supported.
  • Department of Education released a Q&A document that described new guidance for colleges on what school policies on sexual violence need to include in order for institutions to be Title IX compliant. It emphasized a need for more uniform adjudication processes and greater accountability in those processes. In addition the DoE’s Office of Civil Rights published a list of higher education institutions with open Title IX investigations.
  • Campus Accountability and Safety Act. A bipartisan group of 12 Senators has proposed the Campus Accountability & Safety Act to protect students and boost accountability and transparency at colleges and universities.

All of this national attention and advocacy would not have been possible without the brave advocacy of survivors of sexual violence who told their stories, and amazing student-led organizations like Know Your IX and SAFER.

Every year SAAM promotes its message through social media by using hashtags. Join them! Follow #SAAM2015 and #It’sTimeToAct and #SaferCampusesBrighterFutures

Photo Credit: NewsWeek 

Repost: Integrating Dreams

We are re-posting a piece written by Arizbeth Sanchez, student at Freedom University and Nowmee Shehab,student at Emory University and student worker at the Center for Women which was published in the National Center for Civil and Human Rights blog. 

Sanchez: I came to this country when I was 6 years old from Mexico with only my younger sister and mom in hand. We were pretending that we were visiting family in the United States and so taking possessions would seem suspicious. At the time I was too young to understand what was going on and the immense impact this decision was going to have on my future.

Shehab: I came to this country when I was 16, with not much more than two bags of clothes and dreams of a better future. I immigrated from Bangladesh where ongoing political instability and frequent school closures made being a student very arduous so I landed in Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport with a sense of purpose: to survive and get a good education.

Sanchez: I grew up Norcross, Georgia. My entire education is American from first grade until my senior year of high school. People who live outside of the United States paint this colorful, happy utopia in their mind about this country, but the US has had a rocky journey since it’s beginning concerning the equal protection and treatment of its inhabitants.

Shehab: I went to Brookwood High School in Snellville and soon realized that my adopted country had problems just like my birth country. I witnessed acts of interpersonal racism everyday in school and where I worked. I became aware of and interacted with structural inequalities in this country including the criminalization of immigrants of colors, mass incarceration and a public education system that had been increasingly turning away from public interest.

Sanchez: I am currently living one of these injustices. Living undocumented isn’t always terrible. It just depends on where you live. Unfortunately, I live in the deep south. The Georgia Board of Regents banned students like me from enrolling to the top five public institutions in the state even though I am academically qualified. I am also denied in-state tuition in other institutions though I have lived most of my life in Georgia.

Shehab: These experiences pushed me get involved in community organizing and activism. I didn’t want to passively live in this unjust system, I wanted to join hands with my peers and fight for a better future.

Sanchez: I didn’t start fighting for my right to education until I joined Freedom University. Freedom University is a modern day freedom school that provides rigorous college-level classes, scholarship assistance, and leadership development for undocumented students in Georgia. I cannot express in words how grateful I am to have made the decision to attend Freedom U. My life completely changed. I went from being a shy, timid girl afraid to speak up to the brave, confident, unapologetic fighter that I am now. On Friday, January 9th, the 54th anniversary of desegregation at the University of Georgia, I was arrested for refusing to leave an integrated class of undocumented students and documented allies. This action was important to me because it was the first time I felt brave enough to publicly stand up for my human right to an education. I refused to leave the classroom of the college I deserve to attend.

Shehab: Recently I joined a group called Freedom at Emory to advocate making higher education more accessible for undocumented students. This coalition of students and faculty at Emory University stand with our undocumented peers against the Georgia Board of Regents Ban. We believe that every qualified student should be able to get an affordable education.

Sanchez: I am Arizbeth Sanchez, a student at Freedom University who wants to major in computer science and is incredibly privileged to have been raised in this country and highly committed to supporting my undocumented peers in changing Georgia’s oppressive policies.

Shehab: I am Nowmee, junior at Emory University, majoring in Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies, incredibly privileged to be a documented immigrant in this country and highly committed to use this privilege to support my undocumented peers.

Photo Credit: Laura Emiko Soltis. 

Power Woman Wednesday: Nadine Kaslow

#PowerWomanWednesday is a series on how some of the most powerful women in the world fight for women’s rights.

This week’s Power Woman is Nadine Kaslow. Dr. Kaslow will deliver the Annual Mary Lynn Morgan Lecture on Women and Health tonight at 5:30 pm at the Miller Ward Alumni House.


Dr. Kaslow’s lecture, “Leadership Matters”, will discuss the joys and challenges of being a woman leader. Her lecture will provide some valuable insight about her experiences in the field of Psychiatry. Dr. Kaslow is the current President of the American Psychological Association, Editor of the Journal of Family Psychology, and the Psychologist for the Atlanta Ballet Company.


She is our power woman because of her tireless efforts to make mental health services more accessible. Dr. Kaslow is very passionate about supporting people with mental illnesses and empowering them to lead meaningful lives. She joined the Emory University School of Medicine faculty in 1990 and has worked at Grady since that time. She has chosen to work at Grady because of her commitment to helping underserved and underprivileged populations receive culturally competent, evidence-based, biopsychosocially-oriented mental health services.

At Emory, she is Past-President of the University Senate and Past-Chair of the Faculty Council and former Special Assistant to the Provost.

We are very excited for her lecture tonight and hope to see you there. To read more about Dr. Kaslow’s impressive work click here. 

Photo Courtesy of Grady Memorial Hospital

Power Woman Wednesday: Mary Lynn Morgan

#PowerWomanWednesday is a series on how some of the most powerful women in the world fight for women’s rights.

This week’s Power Woman has a very special relationship with the Center for Women. Mary Lynn Morgan is a beloved doctor and community member of Emory and Atlanta. She graduated in 1943 from Atlanta-Southern Dental College, which became the Emory University School of Dentistry the following year. In 1947, Dr. Morgan began to develop a practice exclusive to pediatric dentistry, which she continued until 1976. Atlantans to this day still remember visits to her office fondly.

Dr. Morgan was elected to the Emory Board of Trustees in 1974, only the second woman to serve. Her affiliations with Emory have been vast and varied over the years. She was named as a trustee emerita in 1991.

Dr. Morgan has given tirelessly to the medical community and to Atlanta and has been an inspiration to countless others. We are so proud to include her in the Center for Women at Emory family!

To honor these contributions, the Center for Women hosts an annual Mary Lynn Morgan Lecture on Women and Health featuring women who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to the vast and varied field of women’s health. Past lecturers have included academics, clinicians, nonprofit leaders, and leading advocates both within and outside of Emory.

We are proud that announce that this year’s lecturer is Emory’s very own Dr. Nadine J. Kaslow. Click here for more information about the lecture which will be held next Wednesday November 19th at 5:30pm at the Miller Ward Alumni House.

Photo Courtesy: Center for Women at Emory

Power Woman Wednesday: Shonda Rhimes

We are bringing back #PowerWomanWednesday- a weekly series on how some of the most powerful women in the world fight for women’s rights.

This week we are featuring Shonda Rhimes who is a screenwriter, director, producer and a trailblazer in broadcast television. She is most well-known as the creator, head writer and executive producer for the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, political thriller Scandal and the much anticipated legal series that is coming out this week: How to Get Away With Murder.  

Rhimes got her break working as a research assistant in the award-winning documentary Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream. She then directed the short story Blossoms and Veils. In 2001 Rhimes wrote Crossroads, the debut film of pop singer Britney Spears and the sequel to The Princess Diaries. But it was in 2005 when she began writing and producing Grey’s Anatomy which really put her on the map in the entertainment industry. Rhimes has been applauded for writing strong, complex, women of color characters such as Olivia Pope, Christina Yang, Callie Torres and Miranda Bailey. This has been such a positive change in primetime television where women of color are often written in as side characters with little complexity.

The Center for Women will be hosting a discussion on Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder on the night of the Premiere this Thursday at 8:30 at Harland Cinema at the DUC.  What are the show’s cultural implications? How do race and gender play out? Join us for a lively discussion and of course the screening of (two) shows!

We salute you Shonda Rhimes and hope that you keep entertaining us with your masterful storytelling and rich characters.

Photo Credit: Reuters

We Can’t Wait

By Nowmee Shehab

When can DREAMers stop chaining themselves to the White House fence? When can immigration reforms activists stop staging sit ins? When can the practice of separating children and parents be stopped? How long do we have to wait for President Obama or the U.S. House of Representative to fix our broken immigration system?

 Why Feminists Should Care

Last Friday, a group of immigrant youth, mothers and LGBTQ leaders gathered outside the Democratic National Committee (DNC) annual women’s leadership conference, where President Obama is set to speak. This actions follows recent sit ins at the Congressional office of the LGBT Equality Caucus and at Majority Leader Senator Reid’s office. The activists outside the DNC are joining a national call for President Obama to take executive action on immigration. These activists are youth who cannot access higher education, who are scared that their parents are going to be deported. They are mothers and fathers fighting to stop their families from being broken apart. Immigration is clearly a feminist issue because there are millions of women and their families being affected by this unjust and violent system. The LGBTQ community leaders realized the importance of fighting for immigration reform and have been working for migrant justice for years. Recently 60 + LGBTQ organizations wrote a letter to the White House to amend the administration’s deportation policies. We need the feminist community to come out and also advocate for this issue.

Who are DREAMers?

There have around 2 million deportations of immigrants under President Obama’s administration. This is one of the most aggressive enforcement programs in the history of the United States. Currently there are about 1 million undocumented youth who were brought here as children- DREAMers. In June 2012, President Obama signed a memo calling for a deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) which delayed deportation procedures and gave work authorization for two years for undocumented youth who have pursued military service or education. Through March 2014 USCIS approved 550,000 DACA applications which has helped youth get jobs, internships and apply for colleges however DACA is set to expire this fall. With the lack of action by the House leadership on this issue – the bipartisan immigration reform bill that passed the Senate has been sitting in the House Speaker’s office for more than a year now- immigration advocacy groups have started focusing on President Obama to act executively and for Congress to support these executive orders.

Presidential Power

President Obama promised action on immigration by the end of the summer and Congress people should hold him accountable to that statement. Congressional Hispanic Caucus has sent President Obama a list of legal actions that he can take earlier this year and they are going to follow up with the administration about this issue. The President has wide executive authority to provide protection to undocumented people from deportation. Almost every President since Eisenhower has used executive power (21 times) to provide affirmative relief protecting immigrants. Earlier in September, backtracking on what he said earlier, President Obama announced that he is going to wait till after the midterm election to take executive action on immigration. This is clearly putting politics above people’s safety and wellbeing of the immigrant community. We cannot wait any longer President Obama. We need you to take broad, affirmative action so that our families can stay together.

 Photo Credit: United We Dream 

Welcome to our new blog!

Hello friends of the Center for Women at Emory. We are very excited to launch our new blog. Here you will find regular posts about salient feminist issues. We will discuss current political developments, highlight women leaders on campus and across the country and be a feminist voice for the women at Emory. Stay tuned for some thought provoking posts. Meanwhile we have archived all of our posts from our previous blog here so scroll down and read some of our posts from the past.