#MeToo: one year later

What’s happened in the past 35,251,200 seconds and how it’s changed Iowa City

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After movie producer Harvey Weinstein was accused by Ashley Judd in the New York Times, the world of sexual violence in the United States has changed dramatically.

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But how has it changed?  

In an article, USA today looked at the actual impact. They discovered that what hasn’t come to light is that “since #MeToo began, elected officials passed 261 laws that directly addressed topics championed by the movement.” But, USA today also mentioned, it is “just a slight uptick from the 238 in the year (2017)”

The article also found that the United States congress passed no bills concerning sexual violence in the past year although “The EMPOWER Act was introduced in the Senate and House over the summer …  It has been in committee with little visible movement for the last four months,” the article read.

Their research found that of the 261 bills passed, only two were state-level: Vermont’s law protecting protecting employees’ right to disclose sexual violence and extending sexual harassment protections to independent contractors, and Delaware’s new law that makes employers responsible when they don’t act. USA today also found that states took less extreme steps. “8 percent … created or renewed days or months designated for public awareness, according to USA TODAY’s analysis. Another 8 percent involved training programs for government employees, contractors and lobbyists”

“Elected officials passed 261 laws that directly addressed topics championed by the movement.””

— USA Today Article

Both West High and the Iowa City Community School District declined interview requests about changes, but many students still feel differently and strongly about the whole movement, some frequently siding with victims, others taking the side of the accused in some cases.

Many local and state changes were also made. The Iowa City police Department received funding worth up to $450,000 to address the issue, according to an online Gazette article. The article also said that the department’ s domestic violence investigator, Scott Stevens said that “Iowa City will serve as a demonstration site for implementing the best practices as it relates to responding to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. An emphasis will be placed on eliminating gender bias and addressing the needs of under-served populations”

In the Iowan government, the house and senate actually took steps away from the #MeToo movement’s goal. According to the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s website, in January of this year, a proposal to amend the Iowa constitution that’s goal was to “grant constitutional rights to crime victims equal to the accused” which means that the rights of a victim are the same as the rights of the accused.

Iowan colleges also took steps because of the recent headlines. Iowa State University made changes to better the treatment of survivors in May of 2018 after receiving complaints about the system in place, in an article by Des Moines Register. They made several changes that “include an overhaul of ISU’s sexual misconduct policy, the launch of a sexual misconduct prevention initiative and new training for all faculty and staff.” The University of Iowa released this statement in response to a case of sexual harassment by a U of I student in June, according to an article by the Press-Citizen. 

“The University of Iowa does not condone sexual misconduct of any kind. The university takes these allegations seriously … Thank you for your patience as we follow our standard processes to address this matter.” They also chose to continue their current programs in place throughout the school year, an annual climate survey and a four-year misconduct plan that’s goal is to “prevent sexual misconduct, dating violence, and stalking; provide support to survivors; and hold offenders accountable,” according to the University’s website. The University also closed out a six point plan.

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