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The College Updates its Sexual Assault Policy

Since the start of the semester, there have been reports of several sexual assault cases on college campuses, particularly at Emerson College, where two sexual assault cases were covered up and neglected by administration.

Fairly recently, leaders in campus administration attended workshops and screened videos, among other things, in order to craft an up to date sexual assault policy, which can be found in the Student Handbook.  We sat down with Dr. Joe Onofrietti, the Dean of Students at, who explained the Emmanuel College’s initiative on the issue of sexual assault.

“I don’t know why in this day and age anyone would want to push things under the carpet,” Onofrietti said when asked about Emerson College’s decision to try and mask the incident at their school. “We should get things out so people are aware.”

When asked about what steps would be taken were a student to come forward with a report of sexual assault, Onofrietti explained that whoever the incident has been reported to has an obligation to notify Campus Safety. Based on the nature of the claim, Campus Safety can investigate as necessary.

Officer Jack Kelly, Chief of Campus Safety, said that there are eight certified sexual assault investigators employed with Campus Safety. Kelly explained that if someone on campus were to suffer a trauma, he thinks it would be beneficial for the investigation to be led by a familiar face, like a campus safety officer.

Onofrietti said that the college works with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) in Cambridge and that all RAs on campus are trained by the center to handle situations like these.

In a situation where disciplinary action would be necessary, an adhoc committee would be assembled with three faculty/staff members. The victim is able to bring witnesses and speak on the case, as well as submit a written statement. After hearing both sides, the committee would rule “responsible” or “not responsible”- if found responsible, consequences range anywhere from probation to dismissal from the college.

Onofrietti did admit that he has had students come forward that do not wish to say anything (releasing names, filing a report, etc), but that in this case, he feels the school still has an obligation to lay out the resources for the victim to get any help they might need and to be aware of the different routes they can take. Kelly added that regardless of whether or not the student were willing to give a name and file a report, the college is required to make BPD aware that there was an issue on campus.

Onofrietti also explained that after charges were pressed through the school’s disciplinary system, he would imagine the victim might want to take further action and that if so, the college would help them to contact law enforcement as necessary.

“In a place where many young people are living together, like a college campus, things are bound to happen,” Kelly said. “But we want to do the best thing for the person who’s suffered and that never ever involves hiding things.”

Along with this new policy, Dr. Joe and Kelly also described another fairly new installment at Emmanuel: The Campus Care Team. The team is comprised of the Health, Campus Safety, Residence Life, Counseling, and Ministry departments. They meet every Monday and serve as an outlet for reporting of incidents, as well as keeping a general tab on campus. Kelly said they like to keep aware of things going on around campus and by putting a team together, they are able to do so. Kelly described this team as “the most important thing I do on campus.”

Due to Title IX and the Clery Act, the college is required to publish an annual security and incident report. For more information, you can visit www.emmanuel.edu. The link to this report can be found under ‘Campus Safety.’

Chelsea McDonnell is a staff writer for the Hub. She can be reached at mcdonnellc@emmanuel.edu. Follow her on Twitter, @chelsea_lynn_

Posted by on November 15, 2013. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.