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SaVE Act targets sexual abuse

Image provided by UCC sexual harassment and assault brochure

When the Center for Disease Control finds that 20 percent of women on college campuses report being raped, America obviously has a serious problem. And the problem is prevalent throughout college. Recent media accounts report athletes, coaches, scholars, donors, teachers, students and even online instructors commited acts of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

 These issues prove that America has an ever-growing need for stronger, clearer punishment policies, education and counseling.

The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act, an update to the Jeanne Clery Act and a  complement to Title IX requirements, is an attempt to meet that need. The Act, which has a compliance deadline of July 2015, increases colleges’ accountability for institutional discipline and requires colleges to provide an array of educational programming while increasing college accountability. The act also gives students a broad set of rights.

“That law and the new rule strengthen the Clery Act to more effectively address, and ultimately reduce, sexual violence on college campuses, including domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking,” states the U.S. Department of Education.

 SaVE was approved under a re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act for a broad list of reasons. According to the Senate Judiciary Committee Majority staff, “The Violence Against Women Act provided a much needed response to the prevalence of domestic and sexual violence and the significant impact of the violence on women.”

Despite the progress since the original enactment of the act in 1994, domestic and sexual violence remain a significant issue. Studies show that 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States.

Prior to Obama’s reauthorization of the VAWA, needs for resources including emergency shelter, housing, childcare, legal representation and education could not be met because they simply weren’t available. SaVE is intended to assure that college campuses help meet the educational need as SaVE requires colleges and universities to provide information to students and employees on “primary prevention and awareness programs for all incoming students and new employees, safe and positive options for bystander intervention, information on risk reduction to recognize warning signs of abusive behavior [and] ongoing prevention and awareness programs for students and faculty,” according to the Clery Center for Security on Campus.

Awareness: Free counseling services address wide spectrum of student counseling needs

UCC is already providing free counseling services, as confirmed by Mandie Pritchard, director of advising & counseling. “Our services that we provide are crisis counseling and personal counseling. It would cover a very wide spectrum of counseling issues and needs. We do work with various agencies and organizations in the community. Sue Windsor and Chris Grant [counselors and associate professors] are both members of the Sexual Assault Response Team for Douglas County and have contact with the people from Battered Persons Advocacy who work with sexual assault. We know who to refer [students] to, and we know that it is their option to report or not report.”

Students must, however, be willing to access counseling, an issue that statistics show may be a difficulty. The U.S. Department of Justice reported in December, 2014 that 80 percent of college students experiencing rape fail to report those rapes. 

Counseling offices are located in the Campus Center Building. “We created a front desk check in because we realized that the conversations we have may be very sensitive. Our intent is not to be a walk through traffic area, so the appointments are very confidential in nature.”

Counseling services are available during UCC operating hours. “Our services are available Monday through Friday, between 8 and 5 p.m. We definitely accept drop ins and the opportunity to schedule appointments. At times we have gone other places on campus to meet students like in faculty offices or break rooms, and we have gone off campus to the Woolley Center,” Pritchard says. 

In order to prepare for the July first SaVE deadline, UCC is reviewing policies, and Windsor has created brochures to discuss some of the new definitions and information; the brochures are being distributed at student orientations and across campus. Windsor also hosts an annual sexual assault awareness forum and has helped organize drives for resources that BPA and its clients need. 

For students needing more than information or on-campus counseling, Cheryl Newell, the Sexual Assault Services director at Battered Persons’ Advocacy, offers expanded services geared either in group dynamics or in one-on-one sessions. Windsor can direct students to Newell, to the BPA 24 hour crisis hotline or to local long-term counseling as needed.