The Executive Committee and Student Life Committee held a meeting on Monday with the formal agenda to review recommendations given by last year’s Greek Task Force report. Most of the meeting was spent discussing sexual assault on the Knox campus. At least 20 students were in attendance.
Dean of the College Lawrence Breitborde began the meeting by saying that he has met with a number of students on a one-on-one basis and has realized that, “There are individual students who feel like the response they got from the college was insufficient or lacking in some way,” in response to the recent sexual assaults.
He also said “there has been expressed a criticism of an administrative office or maybe more than one administrative office,” and that the meeting was not the time to discuss that.
Some students in attendance shared their own stories with assaults or incidents they have experienced on campus.
Sophomore Angie Ostaszewski told her story of being taken to the hospital after the Toga Party at Beta Theta Pi fraternity. She suggested that it be mandatory for the hospital to test for date rape drugs under such circumstances.
“I’ve met with Deans and they’ve been generally supportive of me,” said Ostaszewski. “I don’t want something worse than [my experience] to happen in order to make change.”
After having one drink at the party, she reported vomiting, having trouble breathing and forgetting the entire evening. Before the party, said she three drinks in two hours and said she was coherent.
By the time she got to the hospital after going to Beta Theta Pi, she said, “I wasn’t coherent enough to ask for a date-rape drug test, but I’ve had no other experience like that.”
She has talked to Director of Campus Safety John Schlaf to begin implementing cooperation between Campus Safety and the hospital to make a date-rape drug test mandatory when a student is brought to the hospital in such conditions.
Ostaszewski also said she has since deactivated from her sorority.
“I was discouraged from speaking about what happened to me. I was asked to protect other members,” she said.
Many also expressed their concerns about the fact that Dean of Students Xavier Romano is the faculty advisor to the Greek organizations, but is also the person to whom many are told to go to when they have problems with sexual assault.
Referring to the Greek Task Force, Breitborde said, “One of the recommendations is that there be a person, a grievance coordinator, somebody who is not part of the grievance judicial system but who is an independent advisor.”
The committee members, along with student attendees, tried to come to a consensus on what should be done in the future to stop problems of sexual assault and Romano’s dual positions.
Professor of Educational Studies Diana Beck said the school should begin implementing rape workshops and that “they should not just be for students, they should not just be for Greeks, they should be for all of us. They should be ongoing throughout the year.”
Several students, such as Ostaszewski and sophomore Monica Prince, raised their concern about not knowing how to contact the Grievance Panel if they wanted to after being sexually assaulted.
“Many of my juniors and seniors don’t even know how to contact the Grievance Panel,” said Professor of Theatre and SLC member Elizabeth Carlin-Metz.
Students thought that a good idea would be to include the Grievance Panel more in Orientation Week or make freshmen attend a mandatory presentation about the Grievance Panel, similar to the Honor Code presentation all students attend during their Orientation Week.
Other suggestions were brought forth about how to handle accusations of sexual misconduct. Senior Liesl Pereira brought up having full-time Greek advisers. Professor and SLC member Barbara Tannert-Smith suggested having a person anyone can go to with an issue, available to students.
Senior Sarah Lund recommended that students be more aware of what sexual assault is.
“There are many students on this campus who need to know if what they’ve done is sexual assault ,or know if they’ve been sexually assaulted,” Lund said. “We need to put equal responsibility on men and women and realize the social and economic power of Greek organizations.”
Additionally, the Campus Safety Log reads that there were two sexual assaults reported – one on January 27 and one on January 29. Romano sent out an e-mail regarding one of these instances on February 16, after a student was expelled. There was not an e-mail sent out about the other instance.
The Clery Act (formally titled The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act) is a federal law that states that Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) must, “provide students and employees with timely warnings of crimes that represent a threat to their safety.”
Attendees of the meeting suggested that an e-mail be sent out when such incidents happen as quickly as possible so that the entire campus can be aware and notified.
To read the Clery Act, visit http://securityoncampus.org/