SGA battles unreported harassment, assault

Nicole Celli

“A lot more” sexual assaults occur in the Quinnipiac community than reported, 2011 Class Representative Ben Wald told The Chronicle.

Wald is spearheading an ad hoc committee called the Community Resource Group, whose mission is to raise student awareness of the resources the Quinnipiac community has set up for students on issues including sexual harassment, sexual abuse, alcohol abuse and drug abuse.

“We feel it could be further publicized, and we’re going to utilize the Programming Committee, Public Relations Committee, and the Student Awareness Committee to help get that mission out that we have those things in place for students,” Wald said.

The committee will be comprised of both Student Government Association members and students from the general population in order to have a balance of student input.  It is open to the entire Quinnipiac community.

It was brought to the attention of the Faculty Senate Student Affairs Committee, on which Wald serves, that there were more widespread cases of sexual harassment and assault on campus than what was being reported.

“If you look at the end of the year statistics you have maybe two-three sexual assaults and offenses actually recorded,” Wald said. “But the issue brought to our attention was that there were a lot more that actually occurred.  We don’t have the authority to reach out to those kids and get in contact with them, but what we can do is promote the resources on campus that are in place for students who need that extra help so you can trust the system,” Wald said.

Quinnipiac offers Alcoholics Anonymous meetings through the Albert Schweitzer Institute, and counseling services through Health Services. The Office of Student Affairs has a comprehensive system of groups that will meet starting next semester that the committee will also help promote.

“After doing some research and talking to people about why these things aren’t reported, it’s because of one of two things: they don’t know the system exists, or they don’t trust the system,” Wald said.  “They’re afraid that if they report it, they’re going to be embarrassed, other people are going to get in trouble, that kind of thing.”

The committee plans on reaching out to students through door-to-door knocking, programs, informational flyers and small focus groups.

Wald is looking into working with Professor of Sociology Lori Sudderth, who recently received a $30,000 grant from the state of Connecticut to look into why sexual harassment and abuse cases aren’t being reported.

“We want to show that it’s okay to get help, it can be done confidentially, it can be done privately, and there are people that are here specifically for that,” Wald said.