Issues of consent

The topic of sexual assault is not a pleasant one, but it is important, especially on a college campus. Recently, this issue has received an enormous amount of media attention, ranging from focusing on specific cases at specific campuses to discussing how to best address the problem nationally. President Barack Obama has given a speech on the topic and has noted the fact he has two daughters who will soon be entering college.

Case Western Reserve University has been affected by these conversations as well. The university recently redid its sexual assault policy. The numbers of sexual assaults received by the university, whether through the police or another campus department like the Office of Student Affairs, has gone up in recent years. This may be a case of increased reporting of something that was always happening.

Universities nationwide are increasingly pressured by the government (through laws like the Clery Act & Title IX) and public opinion (sometimes driven by the news media) to do more regarding sexual assault prevention, education and investigation.

There has already been some pushback against this swing of the pendulum, with some universities being sued by parties who were accused or expelled after allegations of sexual assault. Some of these people claim they were not given due process, or that the process is biased against the accused and against men. They also claim that universities shouldn’t be trying to assume the role of the justice system in deciding guilt or innocence or investigating serious crimes.

Here at CWRU, if you want make a report of sexual assault, you can call the CWRU Police Department or the police with jurisdiction over where the incident occurred. Filing a police report does not necessarily mean moving forward with prosecution, but it will trigger an investigation.

Incidents can also be reported to the Office of Student Conduct or Student Affairs, which will also start an investigation into reported incidents. Confidential or privileged reports can be made to licensed counselors or doctors at the University Counseling Center or University Health Services, or by calling outside confidential resources like the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. There are lots of resources in this area, so use them if you need them. Let’s look out for each other.

On the Beat is a weekly safety column written by Sergeant Jeffrey Daberko and Officer Mark (The Crossing Guard) Chavis of CWRU PD. We welcome questions, suggestions and gripes/groans/moans/complaints about campus life at