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Campus Safety

Don’t Stop Listening, Even if it’s Quiet: Sexual Violence on Campus

by Izzy Cohan, staff writer

Recently there was an incident involving a student and an off-campus visitor. There was an email sent out by Dean of Students Paul Perrine explaining the confrontation and describing the off-campus suspect.

Perrine describes the process of sending the email, “under the Clery Act, one of our responsibilities as a college says that we need to send a timely warning, a warning to the community if there’s a danger to the community. Late Sunday or early Monday when we found the facts out, that was enough for us to say it could constitute a safety concern. The e-mail states here’s what we know happened.”

In most situations students are not informed of incidents of sexual assault on campus. Confidentiality is the greatest concern and in most cases there is no reason for a public statement. However, as Perrine describes, there was a threat to campus safety and a warning had to be issued.

According to RISE there have been 14 reported incidents since this academic year began.

“I’m sure there were many more that went unreported,” said RISE crew member Nora Frank.

When trying to raise awareness for sexual assault there is a double edge sword to incidents that are made public.

“In a way it’s good that people don’t know that things happen,” said Interim RISE Director Robin Rusboldt. “That means confidentiality is being kept, privacy is being kept, generally speaking—word isn’t getting out there, but then that’s also the bad part because then people aren’t [made aware] that there are incidents happening every month, every few weeks.”

One program being developed by Rusboldt and RISE crew members Frank and Colin McCoy is a new Prevention Education Outreach program.

“The idea behind it was we were trying to figure out a way to have a more effective, widespread method of prevention education,” McCoy said. “We’re trying to reach everyone on campus not just the people interested in RISE. So we thought it would be a good idea to go to all the work crews because that’s a good way to reach the whole campus.”

They have created a short, 30-minute long program that addresses broader issues of sexual violence on campus.

“A lot of people come in and hear Lets Talk About Sex and then they don’t think about these issues again,” said McCoy.

This program would bring these issues to the foreground. The members of RISE have been working with Social Work majors to solidify the lesson plan and it will be going into effect early next semester.

With only a few days left in the semester, it is important to remind ourselves that the fight against sexual violence is not a one-time event or activity. Activism and advocacy should never cease. If we stop hearing about incidents, we have to listen harder.

“We can have Take Back the Night, we can have all kinds of events but if there isn’t a reason for students to think it affects them or for our community to think that it affects us we tend not to participate,” Rusboldt said. “It’s not until something comes up where everybody goes ‘Oh my goodness this is happening here, it’s true.’ So it’s hard, it’s something you have to care about and have a consciousness of all the time and not just when something major happens.”

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