The Saint Anselm Crier

Sexual Assault

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In the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement, students on campus have posed a question; how is Saint Anselm College handling sexual misconduct, and how well are they handing it?

One of the more urgent concerns voiced by students is the scarcity of Blue Lights on campus. The Blue Light system, when activated, would take a photo of the scene and alert campus security.  While some students have fears about their efficiency, others are worried that they are too scattered.

“You see them all around Joan of Arc and Baroody,” said senior nursing major Emily Ashton. She added, “There are not any Blue Lights near Bertrand, Brady, or Hilary. It makes me feel like they only exist for posterity, so we have something to show for the freshman tours.”
These concerns were brought to Pat Shuster, the director of Title IX for Saint Anselm.  Title IX is the name for the legislation which protects students during cases of discrimination and harassment on campus.  

Shuster addressed student fears by stating, “I didn’t know about these concerns, but I will pass the information to Safety and Security.  They answer to me. We do not often have people using the Blue Lights, but I appreciate this information. I promise to follow up.”

Shuster further elaborated by stating that Blue Lights are secondary to the college’s first mission: preventative education during orientation.  She stressed the importance of apps such as Circle of 6, an app which creates a safety network of peers to contact in the event of an emergency. Encouraging students to download and set up Circle of 6 is a key part of the orientation process.  The preventative education also includes videos about verbal consent and bystander awareness, the latter of which Shuster feels is undervalued.

When asked about the most recurring problems, Shuster said, “It varies from semester to semester, year to year. In her personal opinion, a problem which should be given more attention is the reality that many male victims of sexual misconduct do not feel safe coming forward to seek justice; she feels these instances are “under-reported”.  

The Saint Anselm Security and Fire Safety report details the process for reporting sexual assault.  Once a report has been made, an investigation is arranged by the Conduct Review Board. Shuster commented on the process by stating,  “both parties see all the evidence collected in the case.” It is the decision of the complainant whether or not further judicial action is pursued beyond an initial report.

According to the 2016 Security and Fire Safety report, there were five incidents of rape on campus, along with one report of domestic violence and another account of stalking.  The 2017 statistics have yet to be released, but they will most likely be available to the student body next fall.

According to the security report and confirmed by Shuster, the college recently received a $300,000 grant in order to prevent sexual assault on campus.  The money will be put towards four goals. First, the college will establish AVERT-CCR, a which would be a coordinated community response team that builds on the existing AVERT team on campus to include YWCA, GPD, and the Catholic Medical Center.  

Secondly,  Saint Anselm plans to create The Harbor, a center in the newly renovated student complex which will “draw visibility to issues of sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, and stalking on campus (SV/DV), as well as creating a designated place for victims to gain confidential support and advocacy.  Shuster affirms that the Harbor will be a secure area for harassment victims of any type (race, gender, orientation, or disability) to receive immediate resources.

Thirdly, the administration promises to “deliver comprehensive, campus-wide prevention education annually” to all Saint Anselm students, faculty, and staff.  This motion would entail mandatory sessions for all new students, a Bringing In the Bystander campaign, and trained peer educators who will lead year-round events and activities.

Lastly, the funds will be put towards training all investigators, campus security, local law enforcement officers, and Conduct Review Panelists to effectively respond to SV/DV.

The goal to prevent more patterns of sexual misconduct on campus is prevention education throughout the housing buildings. The residence hall Brady displays a large poster in its main stairwell that reads, “IF IT ISN’T CRYSTAL CLEAR, IT’S NOT CONSENT.”  Though a very thoughtful message, it appears to be one of a kind. Neither Hilary nor Dominic Hall have posters of any size about the issue of consent. According to Shuster’s description of the proactive, preventative education which Saint Anselm strives to give to the incoming freshman class, posters such as these should be present in the freshman housing for both men and women.  Do Joan of Arc and Dominic Hall not deserve information concerning consent and sexual misconduct displayed as accessibly as it is in an upperclassmen women’s dorm?

When asked about how Saint Anselm College can improve its safety measures going forward,  Shuster replied, “I always say that we can do more and we can do better.” Hopefully with the maintenance of orientation education, the introduction of the Harbor, and other campus initiatives, Saint Anselm College will be a hub of safety for its students.   

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Sexual Assault