Five sexual assaults and one attempted sexual assault were reported at the end of fall term. Several of these assaults occurred in previous years.
Of the five reported assaults, three occurred during fall term in on-campus locations. According to Campus Safety Director John Schlaf, those incidents have been investigated and sanctions have been implemented. Schlaf did not offer specifics on the nature of those sanctions.
“Those three cases do involve the same persons. There have been some temporary sanctions as well as subsequent other sanctions imposed,” Schlaf told TKS. “What they are and what they were would best not be discussed in detail.”
Temporary sanctions are put in place while investigations are ongoing, Schlaf said, with the intention of making “sure that the young people involved are not restricted in any fashion from getting the education they deserve.”
This can include temporary schedule changes to ensure that the reporter and the alleged offender do not share classes. Additionally, a no-contact order can be sought, which serves the same purpose as an order of protection. In the most severe cases, a student can be removed from campus until the investigation is resolved.
“So far we have had good success once we have given that no-contact order that our students have been compliant with that,” Schlaf said.
At the end of an investigation, a report is compiled by Campus Safety and is submitted to Dean of Students Debbie Southern and Associate Dean of the College Lori Schroeder, who was recently named the college’s Title IX coordinator.
These reports consist of interviews and physical evidence if available. Schlaf said a typical report could include up to 40 pages.
“Depending upon the findings at that point, the Dean of Students may impose a suspension or permanent change in class schedule,” Schlaf said. “It runs the gamut depending on the severity of the evidence.”
Schlaf noted that the definition of sexual assault focuses more on the presence of consent rather than the presence of force. Therefore, the term covers incidents from inappropriate touching to aggravated assault. The definition of sexual assault and the use of the term as a label for incidents are outlined in the Clery Act, under which colleges and universities are mandated to report campus crimes.
Two of the reported sexual assaults occurred before the start of this academic year, with the earliest reportedly occurring in November of 2010. The attempted sexual assault occurred in October 2012.
Schlaf is encouraged that students have been comfortable with reporting incidents of sexual assault.
“We’re encouraged by the fact that the reporters have come in not discouraged by the fact that it’s four years old,” Schlaf said. “Is timely better? Generally speaking, yes. The sooner we know the quicker we can take some response.”
He said that any information is valuable, regardless of when the incident happened.
“If, for example, the institution can discover that there is some issue, whether it be cultural, whether it be geographic, whether it be associated with certain activities – if there is something that we can identify as a common thread – then that helps us try to prevent similar occurrences in the future,” Schlaf said.
Though the student group Allies for Sexual Assault Prevention is now defunct, new groups of students and staff have emerged this year, namely the Sexual Assault Resource Reform Coalition and the Sexual Assault Task Force.