Director of Public Safety Chief Robert Lucid notified the Drew community on Nov. 2 that a sexual assault on a female student by a male student had recently occurred on campus. The assault was facilitated according to the victim through abuse of alcohol. In light of this, the Drew community has revived sexual assault awareness on campus to ensure that Drewids are fully informed of their rights and how to approach an campus sexual assault.
Sexual assault is any involuntary sexual act that involves a person being threatened or forced to engage in against their will. Madison is considered a safe place, and yet, “more and more assaults are being reported at Drew” says Karina Russ (’14), resident assistant at Drew.
According to The Campus Sexual Assault Study, statistics show that 13.7 percent of undergraduate women had been victims of at least one completed sexual assault since entering college: 4.7 percent were victims of physically forced sexual assault and 7.8 percent of women were sexually assaulted when they were incapacitated after voluntarily consuming drugs and/or alcohol (National Institute of Justice, 2007).
Lucid states that “Drew University has made the issue of protecting the human rights of its’ students (as well as faculty and staff) a major initiative.” There have been changes in the Human Rights Policy at Drew, including the addition of Article IX, which requires that “all instances of a violation must be investigated, even if the victim does not wish to participate or proceed.” Russ explains that as an RA, in connection with Article IX, all university staff must report sexual assault. Lucid continues by saying that a major component in the reports of sexual assault on Drew’s campus can be linked to alcohol use, although this is not the only factor that contributes to sexual assault.
Chief Lucid confirmed that there is an initiative in the works regarding sexual assault. This initiative will bring together members of the Drew community, including Residence Life, Health and Counseling Services and Public Safety to raise awareness about the ever-pressing issue of sexual assault.
Joyce Maglione, Director of Health Services, explains why sexual assault is so prevalent, yet under-reported on university campuses. She says that sexual assault is both physically and psychologically damaging, and that oftentimes, victims will blame themselves. Once a sexual assault takes place, Maglione advises that the victim calls Public Safety or the 24-hour hotline managed by Morris County’s Sexual Assault Response Team. This hotline allows victims to talk with trained professionals about their situation. She also adds that there is 24/7 medical care available where there are “health providers with special training in examining sexual assault survivors.”
Maglione explained that a way to prevent sexual assault is to watch out for your friends, and have them watch out for you, especially when there is alcohol involved. There is an app that students can download to their smartphones called Circle 6, which sends a message to your circle of friends to come and get you, if you are intoxicated and need to leave a certain situation. In order to prevent sexual assault, Lucid and Maglione agree that there needs to be more awareness and prevention programs done on campus.
In recent weeks, sexual assault has been a hot topic on campus. Christina Strompf (’14), a member of DV8, Drew’s peer health organization, thinks that sexual assault is a problem on Drew’s campus because many college students do not fully understand what sexual assault constitutes, and this upcoming semester DV8 plans on doing more to educate the campus about sexual assault. Strompf believes that there should be more open conversation about sexual assault around the Forest, adding that “there needs to be workshops on what sexual assault is, what can be done to prevent it, and how we, as a campus, can rally around victims.”
There is a lecture on preventing sexual assault that occurs during freshman orientation, however, many feel that students tend to forget what is told to you that students’ minds. Paul Harlan (’14) explains that maybe if there had been more real world situations provided during this prevention lecture that perhaps the idea would stick more in the minds of students.
Frank Merckx, Dean of Students, notified Drewids on the Thursday of the importance of protecting oneself and reporting knowledge of any assaults. He provided various confidential resources, including the Counseling Center and Health Services, the University Chaplain, Investigations Group which is a function of the Human Rights Committee, Morris CARES, as well as Drew Public Safety and Madison Police Department to file a complaint. Both Lucid and Merckx welcome any input or information in order to maintain a healthy and safe environment within our community. Chief Lucid can be reached at email@example.com and Dean Merckx at firstname.lastname@example.org.