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The first three days of December, EC Communications Club held three discussions for their 1 in 5 event week. This event was co-sponsored by NAMI On-Campus, Gender Equality Club, BSU, and EC Political Forum.
Several administrators were invited to speak at the week’s events, including the Title IX representative Erin Farmer-Noonan, however none responded.
— EC Communications (@ECCommClub) December 1, 2015
The December 1 meeting was to feature a representative from Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, however there was a miscommunication about who was being sent and instead an open discussion was held. Eve Barkin ’16 asked the group what they know about Emmanuel’s sexual assault policy was, their perception of it, and what the policy actually is. Most students were unclear beyond knowing to report sexual assaults to Campus Safety.
Barkin then showed the group Emmanuel’s Title IX and sexual assault webpage. Professor Andrea McDonnell said the page was recently redone to make it clearer to students.
The group went on to discuss the media’s portrayal of sexual assault and survivors. Barkin added that often, the media focuses on larger schools where sexual assaults occur, but that does not mean that it isn’t a problem at smaller schools like Emmanuel.
Barkin asked the group what they think of sexual assault when it comes to Emmanuel. One student mentioned the fact that the issue sexual assault isn’t being openly discusses is just as bad as it happening.
— Andrea McDonnell (@doctordreuh) December 1, 2015
Many students referenced back to the rules Emmanuel has in place that may prevent students from reporting. The fact that Emmanuel is a dry campus and drinking is often involved in sexual assault can make students less willing to report for fear of getting in trouble.
Emmanuel does have an amnesty policy so that if students are sexually assaulted when there are drugs and/or alcohol involved they will not be punished for that, but according to the group this fact is not well known among the student body. They suggesting incorporating this fact into the existing alcohol training all incoming freshmen are required to go through.
Each year, Emmanuel Campus Safety is required by law to release a Clery Report which contains three years of statistics regarding various instances on and off campus. The number of reported sexual assaults is very low but students in the group were concerned about the accuracy of this.
Many students don’t end up reporting their assault, and after a recent 1 in 5 demonstration on the Quad with solo cups representing that statistic applied to Emmanuel, questions were raised about how many assaults go unreported and why that is.
— The Hub (@ECtheHUB) November 12, 2015
Students in attendance also raised the issue of who to report a sexual assault to if it occurs off campus. If both students attend Emmanuel, are they under Campus Safety’s jurisdiction?
As an orientation leader, Megan Malaby ’17 discussed the recent addition of sexual assault awareness to the past summer’s orientation. Orientation Leaders performed a skit where a girl was sexually assaulted, however she did not report it. Orientation groups also individually discussed the issue of sexual assault.
Seniors in the group remarked how different this past Orientation was compared to their own where no discussion of sexual assault was had.
The December 2 meeting featured a presentation from NAMI On-Campus about the connections between sexual assault and mental illness. Political Forum gave a presentation about new laws and policies about sexual assault on campus.
Following each presentation, a discussion was held. After the NAMI On-Campus presentation, students in attendance discussed the lack of mental health awareness on campus. It was suggested that an information session could be added to orientation, and that Welcome Week should include both mental health and sexual assault education.
The group thought that keeping these information sessions confined to orientation was problematic because students can often forget the things they learned after their jam-packed two day orientation session.
Barkin reiterated a point made to her by Professor McDonnell about how flyers around campus are influential, especially for spreading the word about mental illness and sexual assault. This lead the group into a discussion about creating a pamphlet for the student body or list of demands for the administration about sexual assault on campus. They felt that not enough was being done to convey the proper information to students and keep them well informed.
The December 3 meeting consisted of creating a list of demands and determining the benefits of having pamphlets or flyers around campus. Bathrooms were deemed one of the best places to hang flyers, because everyone goes there and it is a private place for students who may not want people to see them grabbing and informational flyer from the JYC.
The group will finalize the list of demands with Professor McDonnell before bringing them to Title IX Coordinator Erin Farmer-Noonan and other appropriate administrators.
Barkin deemed the draft to be “good, realistic goals” for the school to meet.
Abigail Matheson is a Staff Writer and Editor in Chief of The Hub. She can be contacted at email@example.com and on Twitter @abbimathy.
Photo credits: Abigail Matheson ’17