Program promotes sexual assault awareness, prevention

By Marco Cadena

LOGOS STAFF WRITER

University of the Incarnate Word students learned what they could do to prevent sexual assault and how to report incidents at a special April 14 campus event.

The program featured a film screening and panel discussion observing Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month at Dr. Burton E. Grossman International Conference Center.

First up was a viewing of “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary about campus sexual assault directed by Kirby Dick. The film focuses on Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, two former University of North Carolina former students who survived sexual assaults.

Pino and Clark, who filed Title IX complaints against UNC, are sharing their experience with sexual assault survivors around the country. The film criticizes college campuses’ administrators and their inadequate protocols when dealing with rape reports.

The documethe-hunting-ground-poster-691x1024 (1)ntary’s presence on social media platforms — along with its impact on mainstream media after Lady Gaga’s performance at the Oscars of the song, “Til It Happens To You,” written for “The Hunting Ground” — is what motivated the event coordinators to screen the film at UIW.

“We wanted to start a conversation about campus sexual assault at UIW and talk about how UIW is prepared to respond in a way that treats all involved with dignity and respect, and ensures the safety of our community,” said Caitlin McCamish, Title IX and compliance coordinator at UIW. “We wanted to show a video that shows our students some of the concerns facing students across the United States.”

Following the film, attendants asked questions to a panel composed of Robert Chavez, UIW’s police chief, Renée Moore, dean of campus life, Jennifer Tristan, director of education of San Antonio’s Rape Crisis Center, Dr. Christopher Leeth, assistant director of campus life, and McCamish as the panel moderator. The panel discussed topics such as UIW’s sexual assaults statistics, victim-blaming on women survivors for their choice of clothing, the prevalence of rape on college campuses, and the lack of security cameras in residence halls.

“There are security officers on campus 24/7 who are patrolling and looking for anything that looks suspicious,” McCamish said. “There are security measures in place while it may not be that there are not security cameras in every residence hall such as secure access card-doors.”

The panel also explained the alcohol policy on campus, the age restrictions, and the needed procedures for alcohol consumption in on-campus events and parties.

“You must be 21 to drink in our campus,” Moore said. “This is not a dry campus. We have residence halls that are dry. If someone is under 21 and lives there, it is a dry hall. Groups that want to have alcohol at an event go through a process. We always make sure that if they are serving alcohol that they are also serving some alternative beverage that is non-alcoholic and that food is available.”

Title IX coordinators recently added a “report an incident” button on UIW’s website, where students can fill out an incident report and may remain anonymous. On campus, the sanctions for a student who has committed sexual assault depend on the severity of the incident, and with each case, there may be one or more investigations with different levels of penalties. A person is not forced to report an offense to law enforcement; however, UIW provides the option and the procedures in case the person decides to do so.

“Hearings on campus are for campus related offenses,” McCamish said. “There could be in some cases a concurring crime that happened, and if the person chooses to make a report to SAPD or UIWPD, there may be criminal consequences for the same act. The conduct that is addressed in the [sexual misconduct] policy also addresses conduct that is not a criminal offense in Texas. For example, sexual harassment is not a crime in Texas; however, it is against university policy. So if someone would to commit sexual harassment on our campus, there may not be criminal penalties.”

The panel said that even though criminal investigation and prosecution may not apply to cases of sexual harassment, UIW’s investigation would go forward despite Texas’ laws based solely on the university sexual misconduct policy. Based on the 2012-2014 Campus Annual Security Reports, three on campus forcible sexual offenses were reported in UIW between 2010 and 2014.

“We are working on incorporating information about the new sexual misconduct policy and procedures and reporting options into all orientations,”McCamish said. “UIW is fortunate there has not been a major problem on campus. UIW is being proactive in our education on this important issue so that it does not ever become a problem for our community.”

The University of the Incarnate Word prohibits sexual misconduct that can include sex and gender based discrimination, sexual and sex and gender based harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, and relationship violence. Other UIW events for sexual assault awareness month include a healthy relationships presentation with the Rape Crisis Center and Denim Day on April 27.

“Nationwide this issue has received a lot of attention,”McCamish said. “We hope to continue educating our community so that this does not become a concern here at UIW. I want our students to understand that unlawful discrimination has no place at the University of the Incarnate Word. It violates the university’s core values, including its commitment to equal opportunity and inclusion, and will not be tolerated.”

FYI

Definitions and examples can be found in the Sexual Misconduct Policy for the University of the Incarnate Word at www.uiw.edu/titleix

If you have experienced any of the behaviors described, you are encouraged to seek help and support by reporting this conduct using the website.

To file a report with law enforcement, call 911 or UIW Police at (210) 829-6030. You also may speak to someone about these issues confidentially at UIW Counseling Services at (210) 832-5656; Student Health Services at (210) 829-6017; and/or UIW Mission and Ministry at (210) 829-3128.