/Changes to sexual assault laws and effects on Troy

Changes to sexual assault laws and effects on Troy

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Alyse Nelson
Features Editor

 
Troy has been changing procedures in order to comply with revisions made to the Clery Act and Title IX, but there is room for the university to grow.
Dean of Student Services Herbert Reeves has said that Troy University has remained up-to-date regarding the two major laws concerning sexual assault on campus.
This is not an easy process.
According to titleix.info, Title IX is a law that “has been the subject of over 20 proposed amendments, reviews, Supreme Court cases and other political actions,” in the four decades since it was enacted.
Title IX is often applied to college athletics in ensuring equality between genders, but it also applies to any sexual discrimination on all campuses receiving federal financial assistance. This discrimination includes all forms of sexual harassment or assault on either females or males.
The Clery Act was passed in 1991, following the rape and murder of Jeanne Clery. Clery’s parents felt there was an inadequate amount of information being made public about violent crimes on campus and the risks posed to students.
The Clery Act requires colleges, among other institutions, to publish a yearly crime report and maintain a crime log that is open to the public, increasing transparency of crime on campus.
In response to changes in the Clery Act, the Troy University Police Department will now report statistics on domestic violence in addition to the other crimes, like forcible rape and robbery, that were already reported.
Both pieces of legislation have great effect on both the daily operations and long-term plans of Troy, but there are possible shortcomings in the eyes of the law.
Title IX requires that each campus have a coordinator to ensure that Title IX is being upheld.
“We do not have anyone that is a designated coordinator,” Reeves said. “Various departments have people that make sure that Title IX is complied with.”
Title IX also requires that employees responding to sexual assault complaints have the appropriate training to address such situations.
“Some of them have gone through specialized training,” Reeves said, in regards to the police department and sensitivity training in responding to victims, “but not all of them.”
Reeves detailed the process Troy uses to respond to a sexual assault case.
Reeves notes two common situations—one, in which the victim goes to the hospital immediately afterward, and the other, in which the victim waits for a period of time before reporting the incident.
If the incident is reported to the police immediately, a counselor from the S.A.V.E. Project is called in to speak to the victim, acting as an advocate. There is also a chance for the victim to file a police report, go to the hospital and collect physical evidence.
“Oftentimes, we have a victim that doesn’t go to the hospital,” Reeves said. He also notes that many victims do not report the crime immediately.
In that case, physical evidence cannot be collected to persecute a perpetrator, but the victim still has the right to file a police report, a Title IX violation or an internal resolution.
If resolved internally, the matter goes before the Student Conduct Board, composed of two each of faculty members, staff members and students from the Student Government Association.
The defendant is brought in, the evidence is presented and any witnesses are questioned. Then, the board determines whether the Standard of Conduct was violated and what the penalty will be.
If the victim chooses not to name his or her assailant, or chooses not to testify against the person, there will not be enough evidence for a case of any kind.
“The outcome of a case like that will likely be very different from a case in which the victim is willing to testify,” Reeves said.
If the student chooses not to pursue the matter, he or she can still receive counseling and advocates from the Student Counseling Center. Also, the victim can file a written complaint without pressing charges at the Office of Student Services.
“I don’t have a specific number on this, but if the victim knows the accused, then they are more reluctant to pursue prosecution,” said Reeves. “It is our stance that all cases should be pursued, but we are here to support the victim in whatever they choose.”
The university has made recent changes to further adhere to sexual assault laws.
Though Reeves encourages that all crimes be reported, he expresses dissatisfaction at how the justice system can still fall short or fail to help if the victim won’t come forth with evidence.
“It’s frustrating because you see the suspect or accused walking free across campus and you can’t do anything about it,” Reeves said.