In today’s news, one of the dominating headlines is sexual assault as we see Hollywood perpetrators being exposed. Some of the men include Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey and more. In a special article to The Torch, “What Happens When Your Perpetrator Isn’t A Hollywood Giant?,” Liz Williams laid out a powerful question that needed answered. The world seems like too big of a discussion than a page in the newspaper.
So, how does Witt take care of students, faculty and staff who have faced this issue? On campus there are a few resources to deal with these types of issues: the Title IX office and the Womyn’s Center
Wittenberg takes every allegation with intense seriousness. The Title IX office is involved in the receiving of allegations and investigations. Allegations can take two forms: informal and formal complaints. The form chosen is completely up to the complainant.
The Title IX Resource Guide explains: “assistance from any University official may be requested to resolve complaints of harassing behavior in cases of repeated harassing behaviors or any incident of unwanted sexual contact.”
Students’ other options are to file a formal complaint to the university. This move involves a signed written complaint and filing a criminal report. The Wittenberg Police Department will help the complainant in this circumstance. The Title IX Resource Guide does let students know that Witt’s proceedings and the Ohio criminal justice systems are separate and different.
This is where the Title IX Office comes in to play. If someone is attempting to file a formal complaint they should go to those who, “serve as intake officers for complaints.” All of the officers trained for this circumstance are in the Title IX office.
After an assault is reported, two campus employees, trained for these circumstances and who typically work in the Title IX office in the Dietrich House, investigate the allegations from both sides, keeping equity throughout the process.
If the two employees find there is evidence that an assault has taken place, they then send their report to the University Hearing Board. The Hearing Board is trained to address the many things that they may see as part of this panel, including sexual assault cases. From here, punishments will be handed down and it is up to the victim on whether or not formal police charges are filed against the other party.
As Dean of Students Casey Gill explained, the most important thing is not the investigation.
“The number one thing is if a student is a victim, we want to get them help right away,” Gill said.
According to their Facebook page, the Womyn’s Center is a resource that was: “established to focus on issues of interest and concern to women.” This includes: “issues such as the social, political, and economic marginalization of women and issues addressing women’s health and safety.”
Gill explained that the Womyn’s Center also works with sexual assault victims. This resource holds support groups for victims and also gives victims a confidential advocate to help them through their time.
Other than the Womyn’s Center, there are more resources on campus where students can turn to in these tough times. These include: the Employee Assistance Program, which offers conseling; the Health Counseling Center, in Shouvlin; Talk One2One, telephone counseling which is available every hour of the day; the University Pastors; the Wittenberg Police Division, the Clark County Health Department; the Clark County Sheriff’s Department; Project Woman, both the Wittenberg and Springfield divisions; the Springfield City Police Department and the Springfield Regional Medical Center Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners.
These resources are supportive of individuals on campus, however, some of the most helpful resources are the ones who are with you every day: your friends.
“If you are a friend [to a complainant], the biggest thing is to be there to listen to validate their feelings,” Gill said.
Just being there for your friend can be a huge help to them in the process. While you can encourage them to report the information to campus resources, it is entirely up to the student.
It is also important that as a friend, and just as an individual on campus, to know the resources on campus and near campus as well as the process behind the allegations. For more information, the resource guide is available online and is the first link available on Google if you type in “Wittenberg Title IX Resource Guide.” The information on how to contact all of the resources is in this guide.
While the world is struggling with the issue of sexual assault, Wittenberg has policies in place to take care of students, and resources to help students cope with what has happened to them.