(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) – President Chuck Ambrose addressed the issues of sexual assault and concealed carry during a Student Government Association-sponsored forum Tuesday, Oct. 17, in the Nahm Auditorium, located in the Morris Building.
Addressing a group of some 40 students and faculty, Ambrose said every instance of sexual assault needs to be taken seriously.
“This topic has caused a lot of personal reflection and national attention lately with the #MeToo campaign to encourage victims of sexual misconduct to share their experiences,” Ambrose wrote in a follow-up letter emailed to the campus community Oct. 23. “It is time for a societal change.”
During the forum, Ambrose said this topic is important and should never be taken lightly. He said sexual assault can happen to students and faculty by students and faculty at any point, and perpetrators should be held accountable for their actions.
He said sexual assault is a major issue, not just specifically on UCM’s campus, but worldwide. Yet, rape culture allows it to continue.
A student in attendance said alcohol consumption is a major player in this problem.
Ambrose somewhat disagreed.
“I do agree that alcohol can heighten an instance of sexual assault,” Ambrose said, “but there is no excuse for anyone trying to get someone to a point of intoxication where they can no longer say no. Anyone can be assaulted at any time. If someone is uncomfortable with yours or another’s advances, it is time to excuse yourself.”
Ambrose said there are measures students can take if they feel unsafe within a classroom or walking on campus.
“The Safe Team is a free escort service that will help walk individuals who request assistance from one destination to another on campus,” Ambrose said. “Anyone can use this service for any reason when they do not want to walk alone.”
The issue of concealed carry was also discussed during the forum.
Luke Hawley, Student Government Association president, asked Ambrose about the status of concealed carry on campus.
“I just wanted to hear the further insight about concealed carry on campus,” Hawley said. “Has this made any progress in being allowed?”
Ambrose said students need to voice their opinion with lawmakers or actively protest this topic.
“Concealed carry on campus is something the students will have to show their concern about on campus,” Ambrose said. “If students do not fight against this law, it could very well see itself on our campus. It is not up to UCM whether or not this law gets passed. It does prove to be a very dangerous and scary concern.”
Ambrose said there are no bills related to concealed carry pending in the Missouri Legislature. However, he said it could quickly be something irreversible if no one were to speak out on it.
Currently, weapons are not allowed on campus.
Tuition concerns were also brought up during the discussion.
“Although tuition was forced to slightly increase, we understood it was not the students who deserved the burden,” Ambrose said. “If we raised tuition, it would place the blame for the budget on them, and that was not an option.”
Ambrose said the school took a large hit with the budget decrease, but UCM was in a similar situation in 2010 and managed to overcome that. He urged the group to keep their heads up.
SGA hosted the event to gain Ambrose’s insight about a variety of UCM issues and to provide an opportunity for students to ask him questions in an open discussion.
For safety concerns on campus, Safe Team operates between the hours of 6 p.m. and 3 a.m. For more information, call 660-543-4132 or visit http://www.ucmo.edu/ps/police/safe.cfm.