In the first month of this semester, ABAC police have already taken two reports of violence against women on campus.
On Aug. 15, officers arrested Curtis Jones on charges of beating up a woman here on campus. According to the police report, he was charged with public intoxication, two counts of simple battery and obstruction of an officer with force, which is a felony.
Witnesses told police they saw Jones snatch the woman’s phone from her hand and pour his drink on top of her head. According to the police report, Jones then shoved the woman to the ground and then began to punch her repeatedly.
When the police attempted to arrest him, he reacted violently, cussing them out the entire time. The report says Jones tried to kick one of the arresting officers in the face while they were putting him in the car.
This is just the most recent local example of why violence against women has become a major issue on college and university campuses. Women of every age and race become victimized every day. The Clery Act was passed in 1990 to protect women against such violence. It is named after Jeanne Clery, a freshman at Lehigh University who was raped and murdered in her campus residence hall.
This law requires colleges in the U.S. to report information pertaining to such incidents of violence. It is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education. It has been amended several times to expand reporting requirements and add provisions regarding the rights of victims.
On March 7, President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA). VAWA imposes new requirements for colleges and universities regarding reporting domestic violence, making victims aware of their rights and finding new ways to prevent campus violence.
Under VAWA’s Campus Sexual Violence Act (“SaVE Act”), colleges are now required to report domestic violence, dating violence and stalking under Clery. A new provision also includes “National Origin” and “Gender Identity” in the hate crime categories that are to be reported under Clery. Also, unless it will pose a threat to others, victims’ names are to be withheld.
Currently, the Clery Act requires colleges and universities to make their students aware of procedures that victims should follow, such as to whom they should report offenses. The VAWA now requires that students also be informed about their option of whether to notify law enforcement and their rights pertaining to restraining and protective orders.
The law also presents standards for investigations and disciplinary acts dealing with domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. New students and employees must also be offered “primary prevention and awareness” programs to inform them about rape, violence and assault.
VAWA clearly states the requirements for these programs, which include the definition of each offense, the definition of consent, signs of abusive behavior and prevention and awareness campaigns.
These new provisions will go into effect on March 7, 2014. Although this act is designed to help decrease the amount of incidents on college campuses, these situations are still likely to occur.
How does ABAC plan to lower the incident rate? Dean of Students Bernice Hughes says that a key part in preventing violence is to make students and staff aware. That is why ABAC will be celebrating the National Violence Against Women Awareness Month in October.
“We try to remove the threat and ensure the safety of our faculty and students,” Hughes said during an interview with the Stallion. All violence on campus is treated as harassment. Each case is individually investigated and disciplinary measures such as interim suspension – in which students charged with assault are not allowed to return to campus for any reason until a hearing is held through Dean Hughes – and expulsion are taken if needed.
Although discipline for perpetrators is a great way to help prevent these situations from occurring, sometimes it takes more than that. Maggie Martin, Director of Student Development, said that many times abusers are those who have previously been abused. Counseling is available to suspects to determine the root of the problem and, hopefully, offer healthy ways to deal with emotions.
“If we don’t know, we can’t do anything about it,” Martin stresses. One of the major reasons that violence against women is such a huge problem is because victims are afraid to ask for help. At ABAC, the Student Development Center, located on the bottom floor of Baldwin Library, offers personal counseling for victims and suspects.
The counselors and administrators here on campus have the students’ best interest in mind, Martin said. If you have been or know of anyone else who has been a victim of violence, speak up and help break this deadly cycle.