Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Sexual assaults assessed

There has been an increase on the topic of sexual assault on college campuses in the news, with the most recent incident on Columbia University’s campus with Emma Sulkowicz. Sulkowicz has been carrying around a mattress around campus, hoping the man she says raped her leaves the university.
President Obama has also created a new initiative called “It’s On Us,” to end sexual assault on college campuses. In addition to that policy changes were made to Title IX, also known as the Equal Opportunity in Education Act.
At Augustana, crime statistics show there were six rapes reported from 2010-2012, with over half occurring on campus. The statistic for rape among college-age women in the U.S. is around 20 percent for women and for men, hovers around 6 percent, according to
While the protocol for assault at Augustana differs depending on where the incident occurred and whether the victim decides to seek legal and judicial procedures, the chain of command for action typically begins with a Community Advisor (CA).
“I would talk to you about it and make sure you’re comfortable with it, and in a safe position,” said Erickson CA Sara Ruzevich, a junior, when asked about how to handle a sexual assault. “I would try to talk to you about it, find out if you need medical attention, and I would have to let my supervisor know.”
From there, victims move up the chain of command, leading either to the Office of Residential Life or the Dean of Students, who offer support in finding counseling services and continuing with an accusation of the perpetrator.
“Once their needs are met we would talk about the other options that are available, said Dean of Students Evelyn Campbell. “We would make sure they know what the options are and to identify that person. Basically, we would work with them to see, number one, if their health is okay and, number two, what they would want to do following the incident.”
Augustana offers counseling services in Founders Hall, as well as a shuttle service that runs students to Trinity Medical Center in Rock Island. In addition, students may be referred to the Family Resource Center’s SafePath program, which is based out of the Quad Cities and focuses on the rehabilitation and support of victims of sexual assault.
However, proactivity is a component of improving the safety of the campus environment.
“I think that confusion is part of the problem, said senior Chelsea Ashland. “I know that there is a lot of confusion about what happens and that’s one thing that people across campus want to make more apparent. With recent changes to sexual assault policies, from my understanding, it’s important to educate the campus on those changes.”
Ashland, along with faculty and administration, is organizing a climate survey that will assess the problem areas within the Augustana campus that may need to be addressed regarding gender violence and diversity.
Educational programs for students about sexual assault are organized through the Office of Student Life, such as the Sex Signals talk for first-year students and the Haven course completed at the beginning of fall term.
Beginning this year, changes to Title IX will also affect the judiciary procedures used by administration when dealing with cases of sexual assault. Once the policies are written, Campbell said she hopes to promote awareness of the new policy through on-campus education and activities.
“Every time something comes to mind, we want you all to be alert and to take personal precautions, but we want you to care about your neighbor, too,” said Campbell. “We do care about each other and there are things we can do to keep ourselves safe as well as each other, and if we employ those tips, it is going to be a safer campus.”

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Sexual assaults assessed