Sexual assault on the rise

Sexual+assault+on+the+rise

Kellie Mason

In April 1986, Jeanne Clery was raped and murdered in her Lehigh University dorm room. Clery’s dorm had auto-locking doors, much like ones in the Quinnipiac residence halls, Karoline Keith, Quinnipiac’s Clery compliance officer and investigator said.

Clery’s assailant beat, raped, sodomized and strangled her, Keith said.

“Up to that point the school hadn’t informed any students of the 38 violent crimes that occurred on campus,” Keith said about Lehigh University at the time of Clery’s attack.

The Clery Act was created in 1990 and requires universities to disclose the violent crimes that occur on their campuses.

This year’s Clery report stated five rapes occurred in either Mount Carmel or York Hill residence halls in 2014. The university reported four forcible sexual offense in 2013 and one in 2012.

“Universities need to disclose these violent crimes that occur on their campus and the occurrence of them… so that prospective parents and students could make an informed decision on whether they want their student to go there based on the serious crimes that have occurred on that campus the past three years,” Keith said.

Keith is working with Seann Kalagher, associate dean of student affairs, to accurately report the number of serious crimes on all three Quinnipiac campuses, such as sexual assault, and to prevent them from happening in the future.

Keith and Kalagher believe the university is going above and beyond to educate students on sexual assault crimes. Student Affairs is putting more resources toward educating the community on sexual harassment and assault, according to Kalagher.

Not all students think Student Affairs is active in promoting awareness.

“I think it would be nice if they updated us about it,” freshman Allisson Sobolewski said. “They only told us about it once or twice and I don’t think a lot of people remember that stuff.”

However, Kalagher is looking to get Student Affairs in a better position to respond to student concerns and be ready to hear complaints.

Student Affairs has repositioned staff members in the dean’s office to effectively educate the university community, Kalagher said. Kalagher oversees the investigation process and Courtney McKenna, case manager at student affairs, oversees prevention programming.

“We’re looking to capitalize next spring on Sexual Awareness Month in April,” Kalagher said. “And we’re one of the sponsors for the screening of ‘The Hunting Ground’ coming to campus.”

“The Hunting Ground” is a documentary on rape culture at college campuses across the United States, the institutional cover-ups and the toll it takes on students and their families, according to IMDB.

The screening will take place Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. in LC218. Student Affairs will be present and will answer questions and let students know what their resources are.

Two years ago, Student Affairs revamped orientation programming, adding a brand new program that discusses sexual violence with all of the students and during Welcome Weekend. They use the university’s own policies and processes to see how it happens in real life.

“They told us at orientation about the health center and the counselling,” freshman Marissa Darcangelis said.

Along with the Alcohol Edu program each incoming, first-year student is required to take and pass, they are also required to take The Haven Program, an online course on sexual violence and bystander intervention, Kalagher said.

Much of the sexual assault numbers do reflect alcohol consumption, Kalagher said.

Consequences for sexual harassment and assault are outlined in the Title IX policy with sanctions for specific type of behavior, Kalagher said.

“It could be probation or a warning, but on the other end of the spectrum, if a student is found responsible for nonconsensual, forcible sexual intercourse, the minimum sanction has to be a suspension and it usually leads to a dismissal or expulsion,” Kalagher said.

Kalagher believes, even with all the on-campus resources, there are still crimes that go unreported.

“I absolutely think there are reports that aren’t coming our way,” Kalagher said. “If you look at the national statistics on that it’s one of the more under-reported incidences, not just on-campus but in society.”

Students believe the low numbers on the report accurately reflect the number of assaults that officials know about.

There were probably more incidences in the past, but students just don’t report them, Sobolweski said.

Kalagher believes even though the numbers in the Clery statistics have gone up, it isn’t a reflection of more sexual misconducts. Instead, more students are willing to discuss it with staff.

In the past, many students didn’t know what their resources were and they didn’t know there was a place they could go, Kalagher said.

If the Clery family had known about the 38 violent crimes that had occurred on Lehigh’s campus, they may have reconsidered sending their daughter there, Keith said.

Jeanne’s parents, Connie and Howard Clery, founded the Clery Center for Security On Campus, which is dedicated to creating a safe campus community nationwide, according to the Clery Center website.

Now that Quinnipiac students know there are resources at Student Affairs, Health Services and Public Safety and consequences in place, they are ready to speak.

“I think we’re seeing more and more students who are willing to [report sexual offenses] and are more aware of what we can offer in terms of support and resources and a process whereby we can hold students accountable if they’re responsible for doing that,” Kalagher said.