By Debbie Gillum
Two alleged sexual assaults occurred on campus during the first weekend of the academic year. Both victims knew the suspects, declined criminal investigations, and preventive measures have been taken by Denison.
The first alleged sexual assault occurred at 12:30 a.m. on Saturday Aug. 31. The incident occurred outside the residence hall of the person filing the report. The victim said she was intoxicated.
Garrett Moore, Director of Campus Security and Safety, brought the report to the Granville Police on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 1:11 a.m. A Granville police officer spoke with the victim, “who advised that she did not wish for the police to be involved in this matter,” according to the Call Record Summary.
Another sexual assault which occurred at 2 a.m. Sunday Sept. 1, took place in a residence hall room, the report said. The suspect was interviewed by Denison security.
Moore said there was no campus-wide community alert e-mail because the suspects were known to the victims.
“We have taken measures to protect the victims by creating distance between them and the suspects,” said Moore. These measures include a ‘no contact’ warning and moving the suspect to a dorm across campus, according to the Newark Advocate.
Neither victim wanted a criminal investigation but the incident was reported to authorities.
“We’re required to report all felonies to the police and prosecutors,” said Moore.
Vice President of Student Development Laurel Kennedy said that moving students to the opposite side of campus was standard procedure.
“Our practice is to put distance between two students identified in a report while an investigation is undertaken and the case is adjudicated. The single most common practice is a simple no-contact directive, which is usually respected by both parties,” said Kennedy.
The steps that are taken are determined by the wishes of the students involved and in some cases, the student does not seek out these kinds of measures. Each case is unique.
“In some instances, we may require students to eat in different dining halls or on different schedules, we may adjust class schedules or coordinate schedules to prevent unwanted interaction, etc,” said Kennedy.
In Denison’s Policy Against Sexual Assault and Other Sexual Misconduct, sexual assault is defined as “an extreme form of sexual misconduct, and represents a continuum of conduct from non-physical pressure to physical force that compels an individual to engage unwillingly in sexual activity.”
The University’s Medical Amnesty Policy shall be applied to survivors who come forward with a report of sexual assault.
According to www.campusrape.com, 20-25 percent of women will be raped during their college career. 65 percent of rapes go unreported, 90 percent of women know the person who raped them and 75 percent of the time drinking is involved.
Denison encourages victims to seek support through resources such as Whisler Health Center or SHARE Advocates. They are also encouraged to submit a formal complaint either with or without immediate intent to pursue action through the University conduct process.
Whether the alleged victims decline criminal investigation or not, Denison still has “both a commitment and an obligation to investigate the matter,” according to Kennedy.
“Sometimes the alleged victim wants us to do that, and sometimes not. Sometimes it makes a student really angry that we are conducting an investigation. We have to, of course, to ensure the safety of the campus,” said Kennedy, “But if we investigate and feel that there is a safety concern on the campus, we will adjudicate the case, on the basis of the information that causes us a safety concern.”
Since Denison is such a small campus, sexual misconduct creates all kinds of negative consequences. “These cases profoundly change the lives of the students who are directly involved. It also affects their friends and their families. The impact is worst for the students directly involved, but it radiates out to others as well,” said Kennedy.
For these reasons, some students find it difficult to report sexual misconduct.
Another consequence of sexual misconduct on a campus of Denison’s size is that other students often saw the “pair wandering off together, and worried about what was going to happen. When they don’t step in, they’re affected afterwards as well,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy said that Denison students are “really good at getting help for each other, but intervening to prevent sexual misconduct is something that still creates discomfort for some students.”
She said that in some social circles there is a set idea that sexual conquest should not be interfered with, but Kennedy encouraged all students to not be afraid to intervene and help their friends.
“The reality is that when people do intervene, their friends aren't actually mad the next day,” said Kennedy, “And, the wave of relief when you just don't have to worry about your friend anymore is sort of a rush. It makes the rest of the night way more fun.”