Freshman year of college for many is the start of a new life. Many dorms and get to experience living somewhat on their own, having their own space, and making their own rules and schedule. Freshman year can be fun and it can determine your future.
But, for freshman females, they run the risk of sexual assault on campus. Statistically, These assaults take place by a close friend while mainly at on-campus parties where there is drinking, drugs, and free will. In America, 1 in 6 freshman females will be sexually assaulted on-campus in that first year. This number is 1 in 4 for gender non conforming, gender neutral, or non binary folks and individuals on campus. For cisgender males, this number is 1 in every 16 during their college experience. These numbers are a rough estimate due to people not reporting for personal reasons and may even be higher.
The majority of the assaults are sex-related and happen on campus in residence halls, and Dominican College is one school that has seen these incidents first hand.
When it comes to college rapes, 59% will happen on campus and sexual assault is more prevalent on college campus compared to any other crime.
Megan Wright was a college freshman in 2006 who was on the volleyball team. At the end of her freshman year, May 7th, 2006, she became a victim of rape at Dominican College.
Megan Wright was raped by three men on the college campus and there was a video of the men guiding a disoriented women into their room. In addition to them guiding her, one of the assailants left the room holding a sign to the camera which read, “I want to have Sex” with a scribble of illegible text claiming to be Miss Wright’s signature.
The next morning she woke up and knew something was wrong resulting in her friend taking her to the hospital where they took samples. Multiple teachers have stated that they noticed the extreme difference in Megan Wright’s mental state after that night.
After the incident, Miss Wright fell into a deep depression that multiple teachers noticed and, in addition, she ran out of her Math final in tears due to the overwhelming issue.
Megan Wright made known the incident, she told someone, had a rape kit performed, and reported the crime. Six months later, Megan Wright suffocated herself in her hometown with a plastic bag.
Rape on college campus is a huge issue in America and Megan Wright’s story is one unfortunate story of many. Colleges today have taken many efforts to prevent rapes and help survivors of sexual assault receive the help they need.
In my conversations with Dominican College faculty, I have found reassuring proof that there have been sanctions put into place to prevent sexual assaults and to help those who have fallen victim.
First, I spoke to the Director of Public Safety and Security, Mr. John Lennon. Through our discussion I learned many of the ways Dominican College helps students that previously I had been unaware of. Recently, they installed the Alertus System, which also connects to the TV screens on campus, if there is any dangerous issues on campus this flashes and reads on the screens what to do.
Additionally, there is a mass text sent to residents, faculty, and commuters. To sign up for the mass messaging system follow the instructions here.
Every year the Public Safety Department expands their cameras around campus and updates them accordingly.
When speaking to Director of Retention and Student Success Ryan O’Gorman he spoke about the maxient program that was installed after Dominican College instituted a full time Assistant Dean who was in charge of Title IX. This program helps the college by allowing electronic reports to be sent in and dealt with accordingly. This allows for the college to hang onto the proper reports longer and more efficiently than the prior system of paper.
When it comes to Residence Life, the college hopes to keep students as safe as possible. This is completed through 24 hour security guards, Resident Assistants, and most important Assistant Directors of each building and the Director of Residence Life. When an issue is brought to the attention of staff, situations are quickly confronted and dealt with accordingly. Additionally, these staff members are trained in how to deal with a multitude of different situations in order to help residents properly.
Dominican College has progressed substantially since 2006. Since 2009, they have successfully followed the Clery Act and properly reported crimes that occur on and off campus.
Assistant Dean Christine Dilts spoke about multiple ways this college has progressed. This includes a partnership with the Center for Safety and Change and an advocate on campus for survivors.
In Assistant Dean Christine Dilts’ time, the Enough is Enough Act was passed, New York being one of the first to pass it with other states following. This included training guidelines, an affirmative consent standard, a student bill of rights, among multiple other requirements.
The school has purchased an online training module following through proper procedure and title IX guidelines. This has been made available to faculty, staff, student athletes, and new students. This means everyone on the college campus has been made aware of the training module and given the chance to complete it.
In the past few years, New York, and Dominican College, has progressed further to help survivors and residents stay safe on campus and preserve the opportunity to receive an education.
As times change, so do requirements. Ensuring the safety of students at all Colleges is essential. Here are a few ways that colleges in general can further protect students on campus.
Assistant Dean Christine Dilts explains, “The the best way to prevent rape and sexual assault is to education everyone on what sexual assault is and its many forms.”
Another way to prevent college rape is to increase the presence of Campus safety and appropriate Security Guards who’s job is to protect the students.
Another way to ensure safety is to supply safety phones throughout campus that have a direct line to a rover or another safety escort service. While many people have phones, they can run out of battery, get lost, or break. These phones can be used to ensure all students’ safety whether they feel threatened physically, sexually, or mentally.
Many colleges have done things to progress forward in the past few years, and these are important and essential procedures for all colleges to follow to create a happy, healthy environment.