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Policy of the Week: Reviewing the sexual assault policy

March 26, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Dear Beloiters,

It has been a while since the Student Policy Committee has reached out to you via the Terrarium. Things have gotten a bit busy in committee! We will, briefly, bring you up to date.

Student Policy Committee is conducting its yearly review of the “Sexual Assault Policy.”  This year we encouraged a larger conversation about sexual assault from outside the committee's perspective by holding a forum about the policy. We also added the meeting to the Master Calendar.

The conversations concerning sexual assault have been enlightening, and we extend a HUGE thank you to all who have contributed.  We are encouraged by the increased conversations that clubs have been conducting on their own time and by Kristina Erickson’s article in the Round Table.  It’s our hope that Student Policy Committee continues to encourage fruitful conversation.

Although policy can and should be changed based on students’ concerns, we recognize that, ultimately, sexual assaults can only be eliminated by altering campus culture: by encouraging, as one student put it, “enthusiastic consent,” positive interactions, and responsible drinking.

Several things were brought to our attention at the forum and in meetings, which committee is addressing. These include:

  • Re-examining the use of the word “sober” in the policy and what “sober” means
  • Addressing visitors’ potential threat to safety on campus (including band members and alumni)
  • Thinking about new and/or more appropriate outcomes for those who have been charged with assault (suspension, more mandatory counseling)
  • Making sure students know their rights to confidentially report sexual assault
  • Providing an easily accessible phone number for reporting
  • Making sure people know who on campus has received sexual assault training (Cecil Youngblood is the on-campus Title IX coordinator.)
  • Providing more resources for the LGBTQ community

It has also come to committee’s attention that the male voice is greatly absent from the “Sexual Assault Policy” conversations. That being said, we remind and encourage men on this campus to join the conversation regarding sexual assault. Student Policy Committee meets on Mondays during the common hour (12:30 – 1:30 p.m.) in the Mead Room on the first floor of Pearsons.

Thus far, the policy has been updated to emphasize the importance that anyone can report a sexual assault at anytime. We added:

"Everyone is encouraged to report; regardless of the existence and retraction of initial consent; regardless of any previous interaction or relationship; regardless of drug and/or alcohol impairment; the incident occurs on or off campus; regardless of gender of sexual identity; the incident may involve students, faculty, staff, or visitors."

It seems, based on our conversations regarding the policy, that a main concern on campus is accessibility of the policy and knowing when it is possible to report, what phone number is available, and what types of incidents can be reported.  Accessibility to a phone number is extremely important. It is a terrible misfortune that anybody should not easily be able to confidentially and immediately know where to access a phone number if they have been assaulted.

Finally, the committee is currently working on collaborating with the Residential Life Offices to create a poster, which will contain, among other things, a phone number which you may call in the event of a sexual assault.  It is our goal to get posters designed and placed in the bathrooms by the end of the school year.

Thank you for your time in reading this.

If you have any concerns, questions, or ideas regarding this or any other policies located in the Student Handbook, please e-mail the Student Policy Chair, Hope Doucet, at douceth@beloit.edu.