Information sessions address campus sexual assault

Cooper Josephs, Assistant News Editor

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Title IX Coordinator Barbara Martin has been informing the student body of important sexual assault information including the University’s definition of consent, options for reporting violations, confidentiality, available assistance for survivors, and the disciplinary process.

“We have created these opportunities because we have heard from many students who are interested in learning more about the University’s policies regarding sexual misconduct and relationship violence,” Martin said.

Martin is currently working towards addressing these topics with all sororities and fraternities. She has also met with several varsity athletic teams. Greek participation, which is required, has been at least 90 percent, Martin said.

“Students ask a lot more questions when they know their group members,” Martin said.

Greek members discussed the difference between inebriation and intoxication and the complexity of consent during or after parties. 

“I thought the talk was a good experience and really helpful. People aren’t clear about the rules and it was good to hear someone talk about them,” Kappa Sigma fraternity member Steve Hladczuk ’17 said.

Martin has been targeting the rest of the student population through hosting a series of eight general information sessions titled “Sexual Misconduct: What you need to know” available from Nov. 13 through Dec. 4. Attendance has been low thus far.

The topic of consent was also a main subject at the public information session. Confirmative consent, which is consent through words or actions, is very important. Consent can be withdrawn at any time.

“Consent is not assent,” Martin said.

Martin covered different obligations and responsibilities that Public Safety, University Title IX coordinators, and the state have when confronted with sexual assault or rape cases. Many students decide to use University resources when dealing with sexual assault causes, Martin said.

According to Chief of Public Safety Steve Barilar, victims obtain closure faster through the University than filing criminal charges. University hearings are usually resolved in two months whereas it can take longer going through the legal system.

Unlike the state legal system, which uses the concept of “beyond a reasonable doubt” when finding an accused guilty or not guilty, the University’s hearing board uses the idea of “preponderance of the evidence.” With “preponderance of the evidence,” the plaintiff will win if there is greater than a 50 percent chance that the accused performed the crime, whereas more confirmation and proof  is required with the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.

This is the first year these information sessions were available to students. In the past, Martin only spoke with faculty and staff about identifying sexual assault cases, talking to students in these situations, and reporting sexual assault.

 

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