Comments made by University of Iowa President Sally Mason during an interview with a student newspaper have drawn criticism. In an interview published in the Daily Iowan, Mason discussed recent reports of sexual assault, saying the university’s goal is to “never have another sexual assault occur.” But, she added, that’s probably “not a realistic goal given human nature.”
It’s that comment that prompted a group — including university researcher Chelsea Bacon — to start a petition, “Not in My Nature.” About 30 members gathered for an on-campus protest Monday. “Human nature is a common term people use to take the blame from the perpetrator and put it onto other sources,” Bacon said. “Not only is it unfounded and irresponsible, it’s very harmful to victims.”
There have been eight sexual assaults of University of Iowa students reported so far this academic year. Bacon said her group has received roughly 200 signatures on the “Not in My Nature” petition. “It perpetuates the idea that there are other causes of sexual assault other than a perpetrator,” Bacon said. “It’s not what she was wearing, it’s not how much she drank. It’s what the perpetrator wanted to do.”
About 20 students, including Bacon, interrupted an annual Presidential lecture Sunday night by standing in front of Mason with signs. During the interruption, Mason expressed support for their activism, and promised the university will make progress on the issue.