Speaking Out Against Sexual Assault at Brandeis: The >3 Campaign — May 2, 2012
Anonymous asked: have there been more than 3 reports filed and they are being hidden? or are there just sexual assaults going silent because they never spoke up?
There have definitely been more than 3 reports filed/investigated. Some students speak up, and their cases have been silenced, even when there is a positive outcome (attacker found guilty, etc). I wouldn’t say that they are “being hidden” exactly, but the university is not talking about or documenting them in order to make this campus seem safer than it is, which in turn makes it harder for people to speak up. Students have also spoken to FMLA about reporting their assaults and being told to keep it to themselves. Three reports also does not mean that only three attacks happen each year, and another equally big problem we need to address is creating a community that allows people to feel safe reporting sexual assaults, and provides enough known resources for them to do so.
I was sexually assaulted on campus, though not by a Brandeis student. I didn’t report it because, like many survivors, I thought it was in some way my fault. I have been coping with the aftermath without pretty much any support from the school, instead seeing a private therapist and finally opening up to my friends. SSIS has been incredibly helpful, but I didn’t really find them until after I had worked through a lot of things on my own. There needs to be better information and help available to survivors on campus.
Although I have never been assaulted on the Brandeis campus, I have suffered from much sexual assault in my lifetime. This has lead to me being diagnosed with Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. I have vivid flashbacks to that first instance, which was done to me by my cousin when I was 8 and he was 9. It was a very violent instance, and I kept him from going further by fighting hard. So hard, in fact, that I was chastised for playing “too rough”. Thus when I have flashbacks, I curl up into a ball, will cry or scream, and if provoked in this state I can become violent, though most people have the sense to not do that. I’ve only been able to function because of EMDR therapy, and other forms of cognitive behavioral therapy. So far my therapist at Brandeis, the only therapist accessible to me, has suggested yoga. This has been her only real suggestion. I’ve been going there once a week for 3 months. Why aren’t there better resources for survivors on campus?
Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 04:05
A Brandeis Hoot article published on April 27 has prompted widespread discussion on campus about the implementation of the University’s sexual assault policies.
According to the Hoot article, an anonymous undergraduate student who is currently on medical leave alleged she was raped by an anonymous Heller School for Social Policy and Management student in their off-campus apartment nearly a dozen times from October 2010 to January 2011. The case went before the Student Conduct Board last May, and the alleged assailant was found guilty of nine of 11 code violations in the Rights and Responsibilities Handbook, including section 3.1, which prohibits sexual contact without explicit and clearly communicated consent, according to the Hoot.
The article chronicles the story of the female student who felt the University was inadequately responsive to her grievances and questions the University’s full compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 policies concerning sexual harassment, stating, “a case file in the office of student rights and community standards contained no evidence of a university police investigation, a Title IX requirement.”
The Justice could not independently verify the facts of the case. University officials declined to comment to the Justice on details of the specific case due to federal privacy laws. The article does not present the male party’s information.
In April of last year, the Obama administration announced a new set of guidelines for colleges and universities to address sexual assault violations.
“A school that knows, or should reasonably know, about possible harassment must promptly investigate to determine what occurred. … Title IX investigation is different from any law enforcement investigation, and a law enforcement investigation does not relieve the school of its independent Title IX obligation to investigate the conduct,” according to the “Dear Colleagues” letter from Vice President Joe Biden that clarified policies under Title IX.
The Hoot article also states that the Student Conduct Board used a “clear and convincing” standard of evidence in this case, as opposed to the lower “preponderance of evidence” standard required by Title IX.
The University student handbook outlines the Rights and Responsibilities of victims of sexual assault. The handbook states that “the Department of Public Safety has full police powers and the staff is trained to provide accurate information on preserving evidence and the options for criminal prosecution, campus disciplinary proceedings, or both.”
The handbook, however, does not elaborate on what this training entails, including what information is taught and when the training is received.
The Brandeis University Class of 2015 Facebook group currently has 42 comments in response to the article and the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance hosted an open forum yesterday to discuss sexual assault and harassment on campus and create a “decisive” plan for change. FMLA has been examining the University’s sexual harassment policy and FMLA President Amalia Bob-Waksberg ’14 said in an interview with the Justice that “we found that there were a lot of issues in the policy … and issues with things within the policy not being enacted.” She added, “So many students have told us that they were sexually assaulted and they didn’t feel safe telling Public Safety about it, and now they have to see the person who assaulted them on campus, and they didn’t know their resources.”
Bob-Waksberg describes the administration as being generally silent about sexual assault.
She says the administration cites a low incidence rate of sexual assault on campus, when in reality, sexual assault is being grossly underreported.
Bob-Waksberg and other FMLA members are involved in the planning of a silent protest of these circumstances, which will take place in the Goldfarb Library tomorrow from noon to 4 p.m.
Prof. Anita Hill (Heller) wrote in an email to the Justice, “Sexual assault[s] on college campuses, as in general, are under-reported. Brandeis is reviewing its sexual assault policies and procedures so that we can guard against the threat of sexual assault. However, when they occur, we want to make sure individuals can come forward without fear, raise charges and be heard, and be treated fairly during and after the complaint process.”
Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel informed the Justice about one new policy the University is planning to enact to combat sexual assault on campus.
“One of the opportunities that we’re exploring is the creation of a [staff] position specifically [addressing the issue of sexual assault]. We’re likely crafting this out of an opening we have at the counseling center. My hope is that we’ll be able to find resources to have a full-time position in this role,” said Flagel.
Students were generally upset by the implications of the Hoot article, and also expressed some skepticism.
“It’s problematic that the administration didn’t prosecute this case to the fullest extent,” said Dillon Harvey ’14.
“The administration should be creating a safe environment.”
“My concern is how the University can be so negligent to take care of students,” said Alina Cheema ’15. “They were inconsiderate of the student’s safety.”
Student Union President Herbie Rosen ’12 said that he wants to learn more facts of the case. “Students want to know what they can do about it,” he said. “I want to understand the legal barriers and what’s stopping us from doing something about it.”
“I have just a ton of questions about it,” said Daniel Goulden ’14.
—Shafaq Hasan contributed reporting
Sexual Assault on the Brandeis campus often does not receive the attention such an important issue deserves.
According to Brandeis University Public Safety, there have been only 3 sexual assaults since 2008. http://www.brandeis.edu/publicsafety/crime/statistics.html.
Brandeis has 3,504 full time undergraduates.
According to the CDC 20% to 25% of women in college reported experiencing an attempted or a completed rape in college. http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/sexualviolence/index.html
This means that, statistically, there is the potential that 491 women on the Brandeis campus have experienced some form of sexual assault. This statistic excludes sexual assaults experienced by other genders and gender identities, which are also grossly under-reported.
DO THE MATH: 491 >3
In order to raise awareness about this disparity, Brandeis Students will be staging a silent demonstration in the Library on Wednesday May 2nd from 12-4pm.
Show your solidarity by wearing a black T-shirt and picking up a wearable sign from the demonstration table.
Please join the demonstration and show the Brandeis community that WE won’t stand for the silence surrounding Sexual Assault on this campus.