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Sexual misconduct: know your campus resources

by The Stylus
Tue, Apr 16th 2019 10:25 pm
takes more than one With sexual assault occurring in alarming numbers around the country, The College at Brockport has set up programs and safety measures for those who are in danger or have experienced sexual assault. Here at The Stylus we recognize that this is a fight that requires the help of many.
takes more than one With sexual assault occurring in alarming numbers around the country, The College at Brockport has set up programs and safety measures for those who are in danger or have experienced sexual assault. Here at The Stylus we recognize that this is a fight that requires the help of many.

As the 2020 election approaches, an unforeseen hot button issue has surfaced: sexual assault and harassment. This issue affects 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men throughout their lifetime. It is especially prevalent amongst college students as 11.2 percent of graduate and undergraduate students will face this, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). With a president sitting in office who has been accused of sexual misconduct by over 20 women, and similar allegations following presidential candidates to come, it is no wonder that movements like #metoo have taken the world by storm. 

Following hearings of several men in the public eye, politics is one of the places where we are seeing sexual assault survivors come forward. What many are calling the “Weinstein effect,” after the investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct accusations in 2017, has cumulated into a movement toward unification, acknowledgement and strength.

Many women are no longer afraid to come forward and put their names out there. By sharing their stories, women are embracing a community of fellow survivors. 

As reported by CNN, times have changed significantly, resulting in a difference in the way survivors are supported. University of Houston Law Center Professor Renee Knake, accredits this to a change in language. 

“When Anita [Hill] testified, women supported her, but they said, ‘I believe Anita,’” Knake said. “And the reason why they believed her is because it was happening to them, but no one wanted to face what she endured. Now, women are saying, ‘Me too,’ which is more tangible and more concrete.”

With women on college campuses at an elevated risk of being sexually assaulted, schools are making strides to accommodate and support survivors of sexual assault as well. The College at Brockport has an entire page on its website dedicated to getting students the help they might need in the aftermath.

The page www.brockport.edu/life/counseling_center/assault has all the resources that could be helpful to a student who has been harassed or assaulted. They list immediate steps to follow, which include getting yourself to a safe space, preserving evidence and seeking immediate medical attention.

There is also a list of contacts for resources such as RESTORE, University Police, the Counseling Center, RAINN and the National Sexual Assault Hotline. Contact information for advocates and counselors is provided as well as a 24 hour hotline. 

In addition to their response system, Brockport also has prevention and education programs. Educational programs and events that happen throughout the academic year to promote awareness of sexual assault and rape are plenty, including Sound-Off Theatre during freshman orientation, Residence Hall staff trainings and meetings, Take Back the Night rally, student Health Fair and Hazen Take Outs, Sex Signals, the Clothesline Project and special campus guest speakers such as Angela Shelton and Don McPherson. Brockport also provides training and information on consent and examples of dialogues. There are several self-defense classes offered on campus throughout the semester such as the recent self-defence class put on by Gender Equity Movement (GEM). 

Another resource available to students is the anonymous campus surveys. However, students don’t always answer or feel comfortable responding to these surveys.

Even though the surveys are anonymous, they usually ask for a name at the end of the survey and survivors sometimes feel insecure attaching their names to such statements. Furthermore, survivors often don’t feel comfortable talking with counselors or trained professionals about their pronlems. 

Perhaps part of making survivors feel more comfortable is ending the stigma placed on those who have been assaulted. This is especially a problem for male survivors, as the amount of men who report being sexually assaulted is estimated to be lower than the actual number  of men who are assaulted, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

With the new elections approaching, this issue has gained momentum, most recently in light of former Vice President Joe Biden’s sexual harassment allegations. 

Four women have come out saying that they had uncomfortable and/or unwanted physical contact with Biden at different times during his 2012 campaign, according to the New York Post. Shortly after they did, another college student came forward detailing her own encounter with Biden. Lilly Jay was speaking at an It’s On Us event on September 19, 2014, as a survivor of college sexual assault when Biden joined her onstage and held her hand, which Jay called “odd.” While she didn’t think of it at the time, she looked back on the pictures with frustration as almost all showed some form of physical contact between either her and Biden or her and then-President Barack Obama. 

“I could have sworn there was a moment I stood on my own,” Jay said. 

After hearing of the allegations, Jay began to feel uneasy and began doubting herself. She wondered why she hadn’t felt uncomfortable that someone else had entered her personal space without her permission. 

This brings up a good point. While there are very severe cases of sexual assault, there are also several cases of minor, unnoticeable occurances. In these moments it is important to remember that it doesn’t matter who you are or how you are connected to a person, it isn’t okay to enter someone elses personal space without their consent, even if it seems innocent.  

We at The Stylus hope to see more awareness and less instances of sexual assault and harassment both on campus and worldwide. We hope that any survivor can find the resources they need to heal and we hope that Brockport, as well as other college campuses, can continue to improve their prevention and intervention services. 

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault you can call 800-656-4673 or visit hotline.rainn.org.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/online to speak with a trained specialist.