Tallahassee Leaders Call For Workplace Policies Supporting Abuse Victims

Dec 2, 2014

Garnett Stokes speaking at the Zonta Club of Tallahassee
Credit Nick Evans

As Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston attended a University conduct hearing, elsewhere on campus, a handful of city, county, business, and education officials discussed policies aimed at ending violence against women.

Winston faces allegations he violated a number of the school’s conduct policies, and FSU is under a federal investigation, as well, for its handling of a rape allegation against the quarterback.

“Everyone in the room, I’m sure, is aware that Florida State University is being investigated by the office of civil rights and related to our handling of sexual assault,” FSU provost Garnett Stokes says.

Since the allegations, the University has hired extra staff and launched an information campaign to support victims.  And Stokes says the campaign’s new website is a step in the right direction.

“It covers domestic violence and sexual assault and dating violence,” Stokes says. “So it’s intended to be a one-stop shop for everyone to go and see what it is that we have available at Florida State. 

Stokes also says she hopes recommendations from a sexual violence task force will be in place next year.

She spoke at a meeting of the Zonta Club of Tallahassee, a professional business women's group.  Fellow speaker and Tallahassee attorney Robin Hassler Thompson says businesses can make a major impact on domestic violence. 

Thompson is calling for business policies that take an active role in supporting victims, and she says one of the first steps is discerning between different kinds of abuse.

“Sometimes people just have a domestic violence policy, when in fact sexual assault is substantively different from domestic violence, as is stalking," Thompson says. "So having a policy that addresses all three like the city and county’s does is great.”

Tuesday’s meeting recognized a number of local institutions including FSU, Florida A&M, and TCC for taking such steps.