How Does BC Actually Handle Sexual Assault?

In 2013, Andrea Pino wrote an article entitled “Rape, Betrayal, and Reclaiming Title IX” for the Huffington Post, illustrating the awful reality of sexual assault on college campuses. Pino was raped her sophomore year of college at the University of North Carolina, and the experience broke her. She was not broken just by that one traumatic night sophomore year though; she was broken because the system “betray[ed]” her, she was broken because “the deepest scars of sexual assault are not the bruises or the blood, but the torture of not being believed.” Pino’s story sparked a dramatic change in the way colleges approach the issue of sexual assault. By speaking out against the unjust practices of colleges simply complying with Title IX laws, Pino and people like her have revolutionized the treatment of sexual assault on campuses.

Learning from the administrative mistakes of other colleges in prosecuting sexual assault and providing support for its victims, Boston College employs a wide array of resources to aid victims, ranging from the Title IX coordinator Katie O’Dair to the Women’s Center and the Sexual Assault Network.

BC has an extensive Sexual Misconduct Policy, covering a variety of situations and possibilities. Essentially, if a student wishes to seek help and information regarding sexual misconduct, they have three types of resources at their disposal: anonymous, confidential or private.

An anonymous resource is one that gives students the option to keep any identifying information private when seeking help.

A confidential resource is one that does not require reporting any information to the Title IX Coordinator, Katie O’Dair.

A private resource is one that requires reporting all information received to the Title IX Coordinator.

O’Dair oversees all of BC’s efforts to combat sexual misconduct on campus so that BC can keep track of all incidents of sexual misconduct on campus to make sure they do not recur. She is also a resource for any student who wishes to file a formal complaint.

If a student knows someone who has experienced sexual misconduct on campus, the first place he or she could look for help is the Sexual Assault Network Hotline (SANet), which is an anonymous resource. The 24/7 hotline is specifically geared to connect students with a trained advocate who can give them any form of support they need. Students can call for any range of reasons, whether it is just to get some information, have someone to listen to them or get help for a friend.

Another resource for students looking for someone to listen or provide guidance is Rachel DiBella, the assistant director of The Women’s Center; she works with students in regards to sexual assault, relationship abuse, sexual harassment and stalking.

Selly Sallah / Gavel Media

Selly Sallah / Gavel Media

Students can also utilize University Health Services and University Counseling Services as confidential resources or BCPD as a private resource following an experience of sexual misconduct.

After seeking information about his or her situation, there are various options a student can explore. While victims are not required to do anything, they can request interim measures, such as housing accommodations through ResLife, academic accommodations or a No Contact or University Stay Away Order from the Dean of Students Office; additionally, they can file a formal complaint to initiate the university’s investigation process through the Dean of Students Office.

If a student decides to partake in a formal investigation, the process would have a duration of 60 days and would be conducted by someone specifically trained in sexual misconduct investigations. The process would also keep all involved students informed and work to make sure that there are supports in place for everyone throughout the process.

Finally, the ongoing steps a student can take, following whatever decision he or she made previously, include a variety of support programs such as the student support group HEAL or University Counseling Services. Both of these programs are available to students indefinitely after their experience.

Sexual misconduct is still a major issue on college campuses across the country, but BC has made great efforts to eliminate it on our campus. Bystander Training is now required for all freshmen, resources like SANet are available 24/7 and events such as CARE Week have opened the eyes of many students to the realities of sexual assault.

When compared to other colleges, “BC is leading some innovative efforts to eliminate sexual misconduct in our community,” which DiBella credits to the partnerships that have been created across departments and offices on campus established to combat the issue.

BC’s efforts on the community and individual level are exactly why people like DiBella are so “proud of the work” that has been accomplished. Opportunities for learning that give students the chance to have conversations about the issues surrounding misconduct on campus, such as new programming coming this spring regarding intersectionality, are why the BC community is constantly becoming a safer space for more people.

For more information regarding the Sexual Misconduct Policy students can visit www.bc.edu/sar.

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