By Samantha Cooper
Several events that occurred during last semester have caused a discussion about sexual assault and misconduct on Goucher’s campus. The first event was a mandatory online training course. The survey asked students questions they found intrusive and inappropriate. Many students also felt as though it ignored certain issues and took issue with survey’s definition of rape. The issue however was dealt with in a way that satisfied many students. The other events included an expert speaker, Dr. David Lisak, and unfortunately, an on-campus assault.
These are the reasons why Goucher’s Title IX Coordinator, Lucia Perfetti-Clark and the Quindecim have worked together to publish a chart detailing the sexual assault and related crimes of the repeated calendar year. The chart does not detail every crime that took place during the year. The crimes that are still open have not been documented. Several cases are still pending but will be available in next year’s report. Previously, these crimes were reported in Goucher’s Police Blotter but have since been removed, as the victims were not aware that crimes would be published and were afraid of being identified. The Quindecim hopes to publish similar charts once or twice year in order to keep the student body better informed.
These crimes are published by Goucher under the Jeanne Clery Act. The act requires all colleges that receive federal funding to keep and disclose information on crime that happens on their campus. The list is available for anyone to view at the Office of Public Safety. The act requires colleges to list crimes like: murder, assault, burglary, arson, hate crimes and sexual offenses.
The definitions listed in the chart are how Goucher College defines them. The most important one to note is that rape falls under the category of Sexual Assault 1, since Goucher does not agree with the definition of rape set by the state of Maryland. Goucher defines sexual assault as “non-consensual physical contact of a sexual nature.”
Sexual Assault 1 is “sexual assault that includes intercourse, which is any non-consensual sexual intercourse (anal, oral or vaginal) however slight, with any body part or object, between persons.” This definition allows for both men and women to report their assaults accurately and for both to be accused. There are two other categories of sexual assault that Goucher also uses to report similar assaults that do not fit into the first category. All three definitions point out the importance of consent in the crimes. According to Perfetti-Clark, Goucher has a very strict definition of consent: “Consent means willingly and knowingly agreeing to engage in mutually understood sexual conduct. Consent must be mutual and on-going, offered freely and knowingly, and cannot be given by a person who is incapacitated by drugs, alcohol or any other physical or mental impairment, or by a person who is being threatened, intimidated or coerced.” She also emphasized that at Goucher consent must verbal, and explicit which means that anything other than a “Yes” from a person who is not impaired is not considered consent.
Other crimes at Goucher that are included in this chart are stalking, relationship violence, sexual harassment and sexual exploitation. The definitions are available in the chart below.
For victims of sexual assault, the time following the attack can be very confusing and very stressful. This is part of the reason why Goucher tries to keep the identities of both parties confidential. This way the victim has less of a risk of being identified, and does not have worried about discrimination.
Students who are victims have the option to report their attack to Goucher authorities, the Baltimore County Police Department or both. They may also choose to deal with their attacker formally or informally. The formal process can be initiated at any time during the informal process, but must begin within four years of the incident. Either party may choose to bring about the formal proceedings.
The rights of both sexual assault victims and those accused of sexual assault are available on Goucher’s website. Some of the more important listed are that victims of sexual offense have the right to a change in housing, class assignment or work order to help them better avoid their attacker, if they are still at school. They also have right to academic relief, meaning that they can be given extra time on exams or for assignments if they are needed. All of the requests however must go through Perfetti-Clark before being approved.Students who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time may be given amnesty, as long as it did not place anyone else at risk. The list also tells other important rights relating to the justice process and victim’s privacy. The accused also have the right to amnesty from drug or alcohol use for the same reasons. They also have the right to be notified of the charges against them and the right to confidential counseling and legal assistance. It should also be noted that students who are accused are considered innocent until proven guilty or if there is enough evidence to prove them guilty. If the victim decides to change housing or classes before evidence is found, the accused might be subjected to move.
If students want more information on Goucher’s sexual assault policies, they can find them on Goucher’s website. If someone is the victim of sexual assault there are many people they can contact including Goucher’s Public Safety, Lucia Perfetti-Clark, Cynthia Terry, or one of Goucher’s many counselors who can help them decide on the proper course of action, and led them to the proper resources. If they do not wish to contact anyone on campus they can contact TurnAround, a counseling place in Towson.
On February 5th, an email was sent out explaining the purpose of the chart to the students and a second one was sent to staff and faculty. A meeting was also held on February 6th, where the student body gathered to discuss the issue and other topics surrounding it.