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Reader's view: Support sick-and-safe-time for college students, too

College students have safety issues that should be taken seriously. Today, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

College students have safety issues that should be taken seriously. Today, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

As a sexual assault advocate for the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault, or PAVSA, I've witnessed how long the healing process can be. The procedures an individual goes through following sexual violence are time-consuming. For example, a forensic exam can take an average of four hours, where a victim will disclose the details of the trauma immediately after it occurred before even processing what happened.

Most college students have a job while they attend school to cover the cost of living and school expenses. These jobs are often part-time and don't offer benefits like health insurance or paid time off.

So, when an unasked-for trauma like sexual assault happens, what do they do? Taking a day off means losing money that otherwise would pay for rent, food, tuition, or textbooks. Do they get a forensic exam or meet with a sexual assault advocate? Or do they go to work?

Duluth has a reputation for how we treat and support the victims and survivors of sexual assault and how we coordinate as a community to respond to survivors. Establishing a citywide earned-sick-and-safe-time requirement would be another way of showing support and identifying protection as a priority.

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I encourage everyone to speak to the Duluth City Council in support of an earned-sick-and-safe-time ordinance by taking an anonymous survey and by attending a public-input session. The next session of the Duluth Earned Sick and Safe Time Task Force is Wednesday, 4-6 p.m., at Lake Superior College, Building S, Room S1981.

Show survivors you care by supporting the ability to earn sick and safe time.

Courtney Schiffler

Duluth

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