By Kaila Braley
A female resident student reported on Monday Oct. 20 that she was sexually assaulted the previous Friday after she and the alleged perpetrator, a male acquaintance who is suspended from campus, returned to FSU from an off-campus party.
A safety bulletin notifying the community was posted to the Campus Police Facebook page and the police bulletin boards around campus on Tuesday Oct. 21.
Dan Magazu, director of communications, said that while the alleged assault is still under investigation and therefore, it is unclear where the alleged incident happened exactly, it is reported that the students were walking back to campus and the alleged assault happened at FSU.
Magazu said he could not comment on the wording of the bulletin, which said, “The female reported she may have been a victim of a sexual assault,” because he did not write it.
The Campus Police declined to comment on the case as it is still under investigation, but said that the safety bulletins are written and posted by their department.
Magazu said, “We have been going beyond what is required of us,” in regards to the way the school has been reporting the information to the community. He said the Clery Disclosure Act requires the University to issue timely warnings if there is an ongoing threat, which, he said, in this case there wasn’t.
The student was identified, was an acquaintance of the female student and was removed from campus, he said, which means there was no threat to other students.
He added that there are programs and information available to students such as the SHAPE (Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention and Education) website. “We really do have a lot of resources for students,” he said.
The day after the first police bulletin was posted about the first reported instances of assault this semester, students were invited by email to participate in a dialogue at the Multicultural Center about the issues pertaining to sexual assault.
“Let’s Yak: A Conversation on Sexual Assault” took place on Wednesday Sept. 30 and was attended by Dean of Students Melinda Stoops, who was the host, and seven other administrators. No students attended the discussion. The following day the same event was offered, and again no students came.
“The question for me and for other administrators is how do we keep this conversation going?” said Director of the Multicultural Center Kathy Martinez. “Students wanted that personal response, and I don’t think we really did that.”
She said, “The institution has tried to create spaces for student to talk about it, but maybe that format isn’t working.”
On Oct. 6, a week after the first reported assaults, The Task Force for the Prevention of Alcohol and Other Drugs convened for its monthly meeting and discussed the sexual assault cases.
The group included President F. Javier Cevallos, Stoops, Associate Dean of Students Glenn Cochran, Associate Director of Residence Life David Stender and Program Coordinator at the Office of Wellness Education Judy Grob-Whiting, among other FSU representatives.
Most of what was discussed about safety issues on- and off-campus was alcohol related. Grob-Whiting explained, “It is more important now than ever to get across to all students how often alcohol and sexual assaults go hand in hand.”
Cochran said off-campus parties are a major concern.
Many in the task force agreed, however, that intoxication should never deter students from reporting a crime.
Cevallos, in fact, proposed an “amnesty policy” for students who are involved in off-campus parties.
“We are in the process of redrafting a sexual assault policy,” said Cevallos. “In that, we are going to have a clause that would be amnesty for alcohol violations for any student that intervenes in any kind of sexual assault situation. Helping students who are so intoxicated they have to go to the hospital, not feeling repercussions for calling [the police]. Risking one student’s life is way past anything that I can accept. If we save one student’s life, it’s absolutely worth it.”
He added that there is not a timetable for this program as of yet.
Junior elementary education major Julie Marcus thinks the new proposed policy is a good idea.
She added, “I feel like it’s not up to the school” to keep students safe. “It’s not the school putting people at risk – it’s themselves putting themselves at risk.” Marcus added that she personally feels safe on campus.
Amie Serino, an undeclared sophomore, said she felt safe on campus. “It’s happening on nights when people are going to parties off-campus.”
She added that she isn’t really surprised about another sexual assault being reported on campus because “this is a college campus – it tends to happen.”
Antonia Pimental, a freshman biology major, said she wishes there were more options available for transportation for students, and more strategically located blue emergency boxes.
Freshman biology major Julia Woytowicz agreed, saying she doesn’t feel safe “trying to get to the commuter rail,” for example, and would like to see the Ram Tram offer more options for students.
Jenna Illingworth, a freshman environmental science major, said she felt safe on campus, but that the main situations where students are at risk are at off-campus parties. Although she doesn’t drink herself, she said being able to drink on campus “would be safer than off-campus parties, because if you get uncomfortable, you have to get your friends or walk home alone,” rather than already being in the safety of a dorm.