By Skyler Magnoli
The 2012 Campus Report Card, which highlights both the gaps and improvements of current sexual assault policies and practices at Connecticut colleges, has been recently released with Central ranking higher than most of the other schools.
The Campus Report Card was put together by the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Service (CONNSACS). This organization sent questionnaires to all of the collegiate institutions in Connecticut to gauge the sexual assault services that are being provided.
“My take on it is that it is something that CONNSACS does to access where various colleges and universities in the state are in regards to providing services around sexual assault and interpersonal violence,” said Dr. Laura Tordenti, the vice president of student affairs.
“We worked together to make sure we were responding to the questions and that it reflects what we are doing with the services we are providing,” said Rosa Rodriguez, the Chief Diversity Officer at Central.
According to Mary DeLucia, the campus advocate for the YMCA in New Britain, Central did well overall in comparison to other institutions in Connecticut, especially with the strides that Central has taken with providing services for sexual assault survivors.
The Campus Report Card allows the public to see the range of services that are offered at the institution and how effectively they are doing their job in terms of reaching out to students and bringing awareness to the problem of sexual assault on college campuses. Central attributes its progress of dealing with sexual assault to how well all the services on campus work with each other.
“I think it’s having that cross functional team of people that work together and trying to find the resources to help the students,” said Rodriguez.
According to the 2010 CCSU Clery Report, there were six forcible sex offenses in 2008, three in 2009 and four in 2010. The data that is presented includes all on-campus crimes reported to the CCSU police that occurred on campus, in the residence halls and crimes that may have been reported to other campus authorities. To give a broader picture of crime on campus, the data also includes crimes committed at campus facilities and those occurring near campus.
When a sexual assault occurs involving a Central student, many different offices are contacted to work together to provide that student with a wide range of options and services. Central’s Sexual Assault and Interpersonal Violence Resource Team is an example of the close network of offices on campus. The Resource Team has members from the police department, Women’s Center, Student Affairs Office, Counseling and Wellness Center, YMCA advocates and the Judiciary Office to help victims of sexual assault with whatever they might need.
“That’s always the challenge after something like this happens: to try to convince a student to take advantage of some of the support services that we offer,” said Dr. Tordenti. “We communicate and try to provide an array of services to try to help the student through the situation.”
While the Campus Report Card shows that all the institutions did well and are working to address sexual violence, the Report Card also allows institutions to identify what the gaps and needs are in their services. According to DeLucia, all colleges and universities in Connecticut need to improve with the education of sexual assault in their Greek Life.
Another problem for Central has been staffing. Due to budget issues, the Women’s Center has run into trouble finding an advocate to help guide victims through a situation. The budget only allows the advocate be a part-time position and most people look for something full-time. Luckily, the YMCA has stepped in and provided training for students in residence halls, conducting over 20 information sessions of sexual assault on campus.
“This issue is always evolving, the services are always changing, so it’s really looking at a snapshot where the institutions are at that point in time,” said Rodriguez.
However, there was a mistake on the Campus Report Card regarding the victim and survivor services that are available at Central. The Campus Report Card marked “no” under Campus-based advocacy for students engaged in the adjudication process. Central does in fact have this service available for student victims.
With the statistic that one in four women in college will be a victim of sexual assault, and that 90 percent of victims will know their attacker, the Campus Report Card describes education as a necessary form to prevent this on college campuses.
Central educates the student population by running programs that bring awareness to sexual assault. The University provides training and services on campus and the campus is littered with literature about the subject. In the last 18 months, Central has made many revisions to its sexual assault policies and procedures in order to develop better protocol.
“There are some students who are aware that sexual assault is a problem on college campuses, but not necessarily here and not necessarily to them,” said Dr. Tordenti. “Ideally students would really pay attention to it.”