The name of Susquehanna University’s weekly meeting hosted by the school’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Let’s Talk, seems entirely appropriate considering concerns voiced after this week’s session. Now it will be important for the university community — from administrators to faculty to students — to ensure this week’s dialogue is a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, students spoke behind closed doors with university officials for 90 minutes. A university spokeswoman said the weekly discussion is a “safe forum to discuss what’s important to them.”

The forum is a good thing, a proactive way for SU officials to engage students over issues that matter to them. It’s a continuation of programs both Susquehanna and Bucknell have put into place to proactively involve students, which adds so much to a campus community.

A handful of students went to discuss specific allegations they said have been reported to the campus’s Public Safety officer against a male student. They wanted to know how the university was handling what they view as a significant problem.

They wanted answers and to at least start a dialogue. They deserve to get them. A safe campus community is a top priority for university officials. If students don’t feel safe, that is not conducive to a positive learning environment, a school’s other top priority.

“I want to know what I can do ... and I want to know this administration values our safety,” junior Morgan Magdalinski said. “I know a lot of people on the campus feel this way.”

One student told Daily Item reporter Marcia Moore after the meeting that students are supportive and protective of one another. Some freshmen, the student said, were handed a list by upperclasmen of students to avoid because of their abusive behavior.

Sexual assault is a problem on college campuses across the nation. According to data from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, 13% of all students — female or male — experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation; 26.4% of females and 6.8% of males experience rape or sexual assault.

University officials listened. Students want to see action sooner rather than later.

“The school got more of our perspective, which will help,” SU student Sebastian Bortz said.

The hope is Tuesday’s discussion is the start of a substantial and continuing dialogue, with the potential for additional safety measures above those already in place to ensure the safest environment possible.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.

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