Campus Sexual Assault: Two Survivors’ Stories

(CBS) — Up to 25 percent of women say they have experienced some kind of sexual assault in college. Many are afraid to report it.

A new law is intended to help victims, but does it go far enough? CBS 2’s Irika Sargent reports.

Away from home their first year on campus, two college freshmen never thought they would become the faces of college sex assault.

Emagin Tanaschuk, attending an off-campus Greek party in early 2015, met an alum, Alexander Mosnick. He was drinking; she was not. She says he followed her back to her Northwestern University dorm and forced his way into her room.

“He was like groping me even more. He put his hands in my pants.”

She reported it to campus police, and NU banned Mosnick from campus. He was charged with one count of sex assault and three counts of sex abuse.

Since August 2015, NU campus police have investigated 13 reports of alleged sexual assaults. At other campuses: there were 23 reports at DePaul; 19 at Northern Illinois University; nine at University of Illinois-Chicago; eight at Loyola; and three at the University of Chicago.

But in a campus survey at the U of C, 52 percent of female undergrads say they’ve had experiences ranging from unwanted kissing to criminal sexual assault.

A month into Hailey Rial’s freshman year in 2015 at Indiana University in Bloomington, she went to an off-campus frat party. After drinking too much, she says she was sexually assaulted by another student.

“I was in hysterics, crying” she says.

She alerted authorities, but the prosecutor did not find sufficient evidence to press charges. IU investigated and held a judicial conference. She says her attacker was found “not guilty.”

She later filed a Title IX civil-rights complaint against IU for having to pay to switch dorms and change classes.

“Some of my professors were not willing to work with me, in regards to deadlines and stuff and missing classes,” Rial says.

The Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation does not represent Hailey but has at least 14 Title IX cases against local schools.

“Oftentimes, when survivors report to the school they’re not believed,” said the organization’s legal director, Christine Evans.

A new Illinois law may change that, by requiring schools to provide students with a clearer explanation of their rights and easier ways to report anonymously.

Evans says it’s not enough.

“There is no specific oversight, other than a report that is due to the attorney general’s office,” she says.

In Tanaschuk’s case, her attacker pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

“It feels frustrating,” she says.

Her attacker got two years’ probation.

Tanaschuk turned to Porchlight Counseling Services for help dealing with the assault. Porchlight is the only Illinois non-profit counseling agency exclusively devoted to counseling survivors of college sexual assault.

The agency provides the services at no charge.  Porchlight is hosting an event in Chicago on Oct. 13 at Baker & McKenzie to raise awareness about college sexual assault.

As for Rial, her Title IX case is still pending.

Here are unedited responses from the universities mentioned in this report.

 

 

LOYOLA

 

Loyola did have a role in the development of the new law and its contents have been reviewed and discussed here for more than a year. In fact, our Community Standards reflected many of the proposed changes prior to the bill being passed. Looking ahead, we will continue to adjust our processes and procedures to comply with the law. The University has been recognized in the past for its leadership in providing resources, attention, and innovative programming around sexual assault prevention. We’ve screened the film (The Hunting Ground) on campus and hosted a discussion following it that was led by administrators and support staff. We continue to look for new, additional ways to stem assaults and protect those who report them. The University has developed a number of programs and educational tools that are available to students, faculty, and staff to raise awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence, to help connect individuals to violence services, and to encourage reporting. Examples include “I’m Here for You” training for staff and faculty, a mobile app that was created to connect students to gender-based violence services and resources on campus and in Chicago, and an advocacy line that students can call to learn more about their options and available services both on campus and throughout Chicago. You can learn more about the resources available via our Coordinated Community Response Team’s website.

 

UIC

 

UIC, Chicago’s largest university, is committed to providing a safe learning environment in which every student can achieve their educational goals. Our community expects all personal relationships and interactions to be based on values of mutual respect and clear consent.

The university continually refines its comprehensive measures to prevent sexual misconduct, encourage the reporting of all violations by victims and witnesses, and provide compassionate response. A range of accommodations and services, including confidential advisers, are provided to survivors of sexual violence, and equitable treatment is afforded to student complainants and respondents.

 

University of Chicago

 

The University of Chicago remains committed to creating a community free of unlawful harassment, discrimination, and sexual misconduct. In this commitment, the University continues to make substantial strides in addressing these issues through a number of recent initiatives and policies including instituting mandatory training on sexual misconduct prevention for all students, faculty, and staff. In addition, last year, the University conducted a campus climate survey for students to gauge the campus climate as it relates to sexual misconduct. The University also continues to offer many forms of support and resources, Including confidential resources, to all members of the University community. More information on these resources can be found here: http://provost.uchicago.edu/issues/discrimination-harassment-and-sexual-misconduct.

 

 

NIU

 

NIU is committed to creating a safe, supportive living-learning environment.

The Violence Against Women Act Task Force, created by President Doug Baker in 2014, launched several ongoing campus-wide initiatives aimed at heightening the awareness of issues around sexual assault as well as enhancing the many prevention efforts already established for faculty, staff and students. Additionally, the task force provided recommendations that resulted in improved support services for victims of sexual violence.

Sexual assault awareness and prevention education are provided to students in many ways including educational programs during New Student Orientation; a brief online class that all new students must complete; guided discussions held in residence halls, with student organizations, athletics teams, fraternities and sororities. It is also a focal point of campus-wide programs on self-defense, advocacy and interpersonal violence prevention. The issue also is addressed through ongoing social media campaigns, posters and other forms of advertising.

All of those include an emphasis on the importance of reporting incidents of sexual violence. We believe these efforts have helped create a culture of support for victims which, in turn, increases the number of individuals willing to report incidents of sexual violence, a crime which historically has gone under-reported not just on college campuses, but throughout society.

 

 

Northwestern University

Thank you for your inquiry regarding the reports of sexual assault at Northwestern University in 2015-16. Twelve of the 13 reports were received by University Police through an online system that the University implemented last year in an effort to increase reporting of sexual assault, which is widely known to be one of the most underreported crimes on campuses.

The 12 reports made online did not include the name of the survivor or alleged assailant and did not specify what type of sexual assault occurred – fondling, sexual assault or other sex offense. Each of the 12 reports was made by a third party via the online system, and as a result of not knowing the identity of those involved, University Police were unable to investigate the allegation. In the one instance in which University Police received a report directly, criminal charges were filed.

Northwestern University takes all reports of sexual offenses and harassment seriously and is committed to fostering a learning, working and living environment where all members of the University community can thrive, free from sexual misconduct.

 

 

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