She said although she hasn’t received a lot of feedback, the response so far has been positive. Barson said she initially faced heavy backlash and victim-blaming as a survivor.
“It’s been really interesting to see the turnaround,” she said. “People are more comfortable with the phrase ‘sexual assault’ and are more intelligent about it.”
Barson said many students have already volunteered their time to generate publicity for the petition.
Sophomore Zach Padgett, who works on outreach for the campaign, identifies as an ally to survivors because of his experience with friends and family members who survived sexual assault.
“You hear society ask — What were you wearing? Did you have your keys between your knuckles? Like it’s their fault. That’s really powerful,” Padgett said.
Sophomore Shruti Patel works on the campaign as the university outreach coordinator and is looking to coordinate with other schools that are accused of mishandling sexual assault, such as Dartmouth College, Yale University and Swarthmore College.
Patel said it’s important for a survivor to be a member of the task force so other survivors know their complaints are understood and heard.
Other campus organizations have already begun to circulate the petition, including Students Active For Ending Rape.
Tracey Vitchers, communications coordinator for SAFER, said the petition is comprehensive, but the effects won’t be seen for a few years. And even if the petition is put in effect, results are not guaranteed.
“Policies are only as good as they are implemented,” she said.
Savannah Badalich, a junior at the University of California, Los Angeles, originally posted a similar petition but deleted it in order to focus on Barson’s.
“As well equipped as these members are, they’re not close to the process,” she said.
Badalich said different types of survivors need to be represented, not just white women.
“I love that Joe Biden cares so much, but I don’t like that he’s only made it a woman’s issue,” she said.
She added that minorities, immigrants without documentation and people who identify as queer also need to have their voices heard.
“If we’re going to have diverse campuses, and if we’re going to call ourselves a melting pot, we have to have representation for everyone.”