Title IX refers to equal participation of both genders in educational programs and opportunities. It bars gender discrimination, gives equal rights to men and women and prohibits sexual assault and harassment in an academic setting.
Mount students voice their concerns, opinions and ideas for change that they want to see concerning Title IX and sexual assault on campus.
“I feel like because we are a Catholic institution, we pretend that sexual assaults don’t happen here, but they do happen here, they happen everywhere,” Allison Baker, former student-athlete for the women’s swim team, said.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2014, Mount St. Mary’s had a total of 10 sexual assaults reported to campus security. Among those, eight of them were forcible rapes that were reported on campus.
Martin D. Schwartz and Walter DeKeseredy, the authors of Sexual Assaults on the College Campus, believe that the first step to preventing sexual assaults on campus is educating all student about what it is, their rights, and any other valuable information they may need.
“It should be in an opening seminar when freshman get to the Mount,” Isaiah Salvador said. “Symposium is all about human dignity. Title IX and sexual assaults are directly related to that.”
Mount St. Mary’s policy on reporting sexual assaults is through an anonymous link on the Title IX page on the university’s website. Students are prompted with a list of question about the assault and asked to give a detailed report of what happened to them. This website gives students the availability to report an assault directly after it happens but lacks the feeling of safety and comfort which can prevent student from reporting about their assault.
“We need to make it clear that students have someone to talk to someone other than public safety personnel. Victims would want to go to someone who is going to be nurturing about it,” added Samantha Barbato, a student-athlete on the women’s tennis team.
Though there are counselors available to students but if they need intensive counseling, they are referred to outside resources. In the event of a crisis, student are told to contact public safety or a 24-hour crisis hotline. The lack of resources and counseling can affect the way an individual reacts to his or her assault.
“I would love to have a student advocacy group for individuals who have experienced a sexual assault or those who have concerns about sexual assaults,” stated Jenna Moseman, a desk assistant for Residents Life. “Talking to your peers can sometimes be easier than talking to an adult.”
In the event of a sexual assault reported on campus, Public Safety follows the law closely. Students want reassurance regarding the issue that they will be treated fairly regardless of gender and have the support of the university if they choose to report it to the local police.
“The way the Mount handles sexual assaults will always be criticized but I do think we could be doing more. There’s not really room for error but the Mount could be doing something that makes the error margin smaller,” commented Chris Evans, student-athlete for the cross country team.
Although Mount St. Mary’s does offer support to victims and have information readily available, students want the information to be easily accessible regardless of if they are an athlete or not.