By Zeke Willcox
While colleges across America are paying closer attention to reports of sexual assault on their campuses, a recent survey indicated that such crimes may be relatively rare at Hutchinson Community College.
When asked if they had known of a female who had been raped on a college campus with the past two years, 72 HCC students answered, almost unanimously, they had not.
Of those 72 responses, three female and two males answered yes, they each knew of a female who had experienced such an attack, (not naming the college).
The survey also asked if the victim in those incidents had reported the attack to the college, if the rapist had been prosecuted and if there was punishment.
One male and two female answered yes to whether to whether the victim reported to their respective colleges. The female respondent said that the alleged rapist faced prosecution and that the rapist was punished.
However, the male wrote that the rapist was neither prosecuted nor faced any punishments.
The survey then asked if the victim reported the incident to the police and whether anyone was charged or convicted.
One male answered that the victim reported the crime to the police, however no one was charged.
One female answered that the victim did not report the incident to the police.
However, one male and female each answered that the victim did report the incidents to the police and that the alleged perpetrators were charged and convicted.
One female answered that she was unaware if the victim reported to the police.
Due to a rising tide of complaints in how reports of sexual assaults were handled by college administrations, the federal government is investigating the situation.
On May 1, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights released the first public list of colleges and universities under scrutiny for possible violations of federal law in their responses to sexual violence allegations.
At the time, 59 cases were pending at 55 schools. By mid-October, 89 cases were pending at 85 schools.
Eight cases are more than three years old, including one focused on the University of Virginia, one on Harvard Law School and one on Princeton University.
In late January, two football players at Vanderbilt University were convicted of multiple counts of aggravated rape, stemming from the Summer 2013 gang rape of an unconscious female student in a dorm room.
The convictions carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison. Two other football players are awaiting trial in the same incident.
Photos taken during that incident, by the alleged attackers, were recovered and used by the prosecution in court.
It was reported that at least one of the men had taken photos of the attack and sent them out by social media to friends, as the incident was occurring.
Brandon Vandenburg, convicted in the attack, had gotten the female student so drunk she had passed out. Then he and others carried her to his room.
His roommate later said he had been awakened by the commotion, seen the woman lying motionless on the floor and heard one of the men say he would have sex with her.
Other students said they saw the woman lying unconscious in the hallway where the men had deposited her.
At least two of Mr. Vandenburg’s friends received images of the assault from him via social media.
Yet none of those people went to the police, just as no one had intervened earlier after seeing Mr. Vandenburg giving drinks to the woman and then, with the help of the other three, carrying her after she passed out.
Experts say the programs that are most effective at reducing sexual assault are those that persuade people that bystanders have an obligation to intervene, and teach them how to take action.
Colleges across America are taking extra precautions in order to insure their students’ safety.
If an incident of sexual harassment or assault is reported at Hutchinson Community College, it is referred to Jacob Gunden, coordinator of equity and compliance.
His job is to make sure that that students and faculty on campus are treated fairly under the law.
He also is the Title IX coordinator. His responsibilities includes making sure no sex discrimination takes place on the campus in any activities, clubs, or sports.
He also is responsible for federal EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) complaints, that deal with hostile work environment. That federal law also covers all students.
Gunden works closely with Christopher Lau, coordinator of advising, career development and counseling, who may serve as a counselor after an incident.
If allegations of rape or sexual abuse are discovered, contact Gunden at his office at 620-665-3512.