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Students and University Aim to Combat Sexual Assault

Everett Bishop, Staff Writer

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In the wake of the sexual assault allegations brought forward against Harvey Weinstein, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Oreskes, and others, sexual assaul snd harassment has entered a national conversation that trickles down to the local level of colleges and universities.

According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), 23.1 percent undergraduate females and 5.4 percent of undergraduate males are sexually assaulted per year through physical force on college campuses, and these are only the assaults that have been reported. In fact, a report by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) stated that more 90 percent of sexual assaults that occur on college campuses go unreported.

In the University of New Haven’s Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Policy, provided by Ashley Dunn from the Title IX Compliance Office, several steps are laid out for students to follow if they are experiencing any forms of sexual misconduct on campus. These steps include: “document the harassment by photographing or keeping copies of any documentary evidence, keep a journal with detailed information on instances of sexual harassment, tell other people. If the harasser is a University student or employee, immediately report the harassment to the Title IX Office.”

In addition, the policy provides several different campus resources students can use if they are experiencing sexual misconduct of any kind. These include the Confidential Counseling and Psychological services, and the Health and Wellness Center, as well as private counsel with the Dean of Students Office, Campus Police, the Title IX Coordinator, and Campus Human Resources.

“I would be remiss if I did not point out that it is easy for an administrator, such as myself, to encourage reporting when I am not experiencing the harassment firsthand,” said Dunn. “We should all acknowledge the immense difficulty presented to individuals put in any situation that would result in their reporting sexual misconduct to the university.”

Quiana Criales, a student at the University of New Haven, has experienced sexual harassment firsthand.

“I was in high school and I came into this friend group who were straight A students, really good people,” said Criales. “It just happened that he was a mutual friend of the people of that group.”

Criales continued her story describing how for the next few weeks after joining this friend group she began receiving mysterious text messages that were seemingly obsessive, and that she had started running into the group’s mutual friend more and more. This “friend” continued to harass Criales through high school, physically and personally, spreading rumors about her throughout the school.

“I think this movement (#MeToo) is so important,” said Criales. “It brings to light all of these issues and says ‘OK you’re not the only one.’ It doesn’t matter what situation you are in. If you didn’t want it, clearly it’s not okay.”

Criales also wants to remind anyone who may be experiencing any kind of sexual misconduct to remember two things: it is not your fault, and do not be dismissive.

“The text messages and comments that were made…I shouldn’t have waited to come forward,” said Criales. “Don’t be dismissive and don’t wait to come forward.”

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Students and University Aim to Combat Sexual Assault