By Abby Wargo
Student Life Editor
On March 13, two sexual offenses for rape were reported to Public Safety. The first incident occurred on Nov. 20 at 12:30 a.m., and the second on Dec. 9 at 5:30 a.m., both in dorms on campus.
Due to Title IX, the nature of each case cannot be discussed; however, the process of reporting a case is not confidential.
Gerald Roderick, director of Public Safety, said, “Title IX allows all students the same rights to equal access of education, and an assault case denies that right.”
There are a variety of avenues to address a violation, one being a direct report to Public Safety.
“We write up the initial complaint and then send it to Candace Wannamaker, the Title IX coordinator, where it is reviewed. We have four trained Title IX investigators. Sue Golinski handles oversight of the case, and I am also trained,” Roderick said.
Both the respondent and complainant are called in to meet with the investigators to further discuss the details of the case.
“Our job is to be fact finders and figure out what happened so that we can determine actions that should be taken,” Roderick said.
If the case continues, there is eventually a hearing where the responsibility of the crime is determined. The entire process is confidential and handled entirely through school officials so that students do not have to go through a criminal court case if they do not want to. Students also have the opportunity to pursue criminal charges, an area they can also pursue through PS.
If respondents are found guilty, they can either be suspended or expelled.
“This is a very serious matter. We have to determine whether no contact orders should be issued, we have to look at housing arrangements to see if they create problems, if class schedules coincide…we want to make everyone in the situation comfortable,” Roderick said.
Rachel Boyle, director of prevention, education, and advocacy at Washington College and the coordinator of the Sexual Assault Response Advocates (SARA) team, is also instrumental throughout the process.
“Rachel becomes an advocate for the complainant, so that they have one person that they can relate to and trust during the process [a Title IX Case],” Roderick said.
Advocates’ jobs are to provide guidance and support to victims of sexual assault, which can help complainants feel more comfortable with the process and give them the support they need to continue with the case.
Medical treatment is also recommended.
“Of course, our primary concern is medical treatment for victims. We make sure that after every report, the complainant has sought proper medical attention,” Roderick said.
Although sexual assault is no fault of the victim, students can take actions that contribute to prevention.
“I’d like to see more bystander intervention on the sides of both men and women. If that were happening more, by addressing it right on the front end, there would be a decrease in cases,” Roderick said.
Since alcohol can often be a factor in cases, Roderick recommended creating a game plan with friends before going out to social events. This can lead to a safer evening.
“It is important to remember that intoxication means that you cannot consent to any sexual activity,” he said.