ASG approves new club, plans Title IX resolution

Lauren Trimber
Mark Myers, ‘19, explains Why Not Us to Allegheny Student Government during its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. Why Not Us focuses on reducing sexual violence and ending rape culture.

The constitution for the new Why Not Us organization was passed during the Allegheny Student Government meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 26. The organization’s four main pillars are educate, engage, empower and collaborate, according to founder Mark Myers, ’19. The first three pillars are from the national campaign It’s On Us, which works to reduce sexual violence and end rape culture, also according to Myers.

“As an organization it is our goal [to enact] preventative efforts to reduce the numbers of sexual assaults on campus,” Myers said.

The organization has been working with Title IX Coordinator and Executive Vice President Gilly Ford to draft its constitution and organize programming around campus for the mentioned preventative efforts, according to Myers.

Since October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, Why Not Us hopes to work both with Ford’s office and Alpha Chi Omega, a sorority which nationally supports domestic violence awareness and whose Allegheny chapter sent representatives to look over the organization’s constitution, Myers said.

One idea Why Not Us hopes to implement is the use of fanny packs stuffed with items such as tampons and condoms. Why Not Us members with bystander training will walk around campus with the fanny packs, making those items available to anyone who needs them. Why Not Us Treasurer Hayley Diemer, ’19, said she started her own independent project with her fanny pack which she uses on weekends.

“I was keeping condoms for people if they need them and tampons,” Diemer said. “I would post on social media … [that] I’m wearing this fanny pack and should you need these things, feel free to come up to me.”

Why Not Us would expand on this idea by giving organization members bystander training, according to Diemer. Diemer said the members with bystander training would then get a fanny pack for the weekend that would contain items such as tampons, condoms and business cards with the numbers for Office of Public Safety, as well as Title IX.

“Fanny packs would be distinguished from other people wearing fanny packs for fun with something like a piece of duct tape around the waistband,” Diemer said. “That way when you’re walking around campus and you see somebody, you can say, oh they have resources that I may need if I’m in trouble. You can also assume that this person has some kind of training through this club, bystander training or even further training through Title IX. They will have resources to hook you up with security and Title IX.”

The project will not be complete until all members have had thorough bystander training and preparation, according to Myers.

One concern ASG raised about Why Not Us was its similarities with the Reproductive Health Coalition. ReproCo Vice President and Why Not Us Public Relations Chair Perry Rusen-Morohovich, ’19, attended the meeting to explain the differences between the two organizations.

“The Reproduction Coalition is not a preventative service,” Rusen-Morohovich said. “We try to prevent pregnancies and STDs, while [Why Not Us] focuses on domestic violence and domestic abuse.”

Another concern came from the organization’s constitution. Class of 2020 President Jason Ferrante raised the point that the constitution for Why Not Us had a 77.4 percent word match with the College Democrat’s constitution. In the election section of the College Democrat’s constitution, two parentheses are incorrectly underlined. In that same section of the Why Not Us constitution, the page contains the same error. Although Myers made College Democrats more active on campus, he did not write the organization’s constitution, ASG President Mark MacStudy, ’18, said.

However, the constitution did not violate any bylaws, according to MacStudy.

“There’s nothing written down that says you can’t copy and paste,” MacStudy said. “In that aspect, no, they didn’t do anything wrong.”

Ultimately, a majority of senators found the need for the organization outweighed the concerns and the constitution was passed.

Once the constitution passed, MacStudy talked about the Trump administration’s recent choice to rescind certain protections provided by Title IX.

“I was thinking it might be a good idea to write a resolution that states we are still committed to working with the administration to further the Title IX process,” MacStudy said.

In the following discussion, senators offered ideas for the resolution.

“I think that it might be important to get word that we’re still upholding it, but also to make it very public so people don’t feel that they’re being left in the dark about this,” said Class of 2021 President David Roach.

Ferrante agreed with Roach and suggested ASG take the resolution public in a lobby meeting.

“If we could have [Ford] come as well and talk about the importance of upholding Title IX, I think it would be good,” Ferrante said.

MacStudy said he planned on working with Ford while drafting the resolution.

“I want to make it clear as possible to the administration that this isn’t a response to anything they’ve done,” MacStudy said. “We actually want to work quite closely with them in this.”