On Tuesday, March 28, an email was sent to students warning of a sexual assault that occurred over the weekend.In any case on campus, the Public Safety Department weighs the severity of the situation and the risk to the public’s
The college decides whether to alert the community based on the threat to the public. There are certain protocols in place for notifying the community of such sexual assaults and other instances in compliance with the CLERY ACT. “The intent behind the notification requirement is for public safety,” said Doug Babcock, Director of Public Safety. “So the foundational consideration when making those judgement calls are, first off, it has to specifically be on campus. If it is a non college event and something happens it’s not reportable.”
There are two other stipulations that require a timely notification. Along with the situation taking place on campus, the severity and risk are taken into consideration. “We might get a case where a disclosure is made five months ago and this happened and I have been dealing with it and I really need to talk to someone about it now,” said Babcock. “Well, five months is a long time in terms of what would be the risk to public safety and we have to think of what risk this has and if that person is even here anymore.”
Catherine Welch, assistant dean of students, administered an anonymous Campus Climate survey that asked the questions “have you experienced sexual contact without your consent since you became and student at this school?”
and “did you use the formal procedures available at your school to report the incident?” Of the participants of the survey, 13% (106) answered yes to having non consensual sexual contact, however only .05% (5) reported it to the proper authorities.
“I know there have been other incidences and the students for a variety of reasons have chosen not to come forward and that’s okay,” Welch said. “Oftentimes if a student comes forward and they know who the other student is, we are going to work with those other students to resolve the situation confidentially.”
Welch continued, saying, “the message we try to send again is that this can have such an impact on people’s lives and we at St. Mike’s are systems of support that give students a variety of different avenues.” These different support systems include both on and off campus support; on campus support being Bergeron Wellness Center or through campus ministry.
There are multiple ways to report and receive support for a sexual assault in our community at St. Michael’s College.