Amherst rape incident prompts student-led dialogue on the future of sexual assault policy at Scripps

By Lauren Prince ‘14Editor-in-Chief

On Friday, Nov. 9, Theresa Iker (SCR ’14) and Rachel Weiner (SCR ’13) held a student-led forum to discuss the Amherst College rape scandal. 15 Scripps students convened in the Dorsey living room to discuss what sexual assault looks like at Scripps and the 5Cs. Iker and Weiner are members of the SAS Sexual Assault Committee, which works with the administration and the Sexual Assault Awareness and Resource Committee (SAARC) to find solutions to the prevalence of sexual assault on the 5Cs.

Many ideas and solutions were discussed and analyzed. First, the creation of a peer advocacy group was discussed. Students could turn to these advocates for advice, help, and information regarding sexual assault reporting and investigative procedures.

Ike and Weiner presented statistics for the number of reported sex offenses in the consortium. The statistics were staggeringly low. For Scripps, the figures are: 2009 – 0, 2010 – 3, 2011 – 0. For the 5Cs combined: 2009 – 2, 2010 – 7, 2011 – 7.

Iker mentioned that she hears of more sexual assaults in one weekend than are reported all year. The fact that sexual assaults go unreported when they happen on a regular basis is troubling. Students report that one of the main reasons they do not report sexual assault is the unwelcoming and uncomfortable vibe surrounding the Dean of Students Office. Because this is one of the first steps in the investigation process, it hinders students from starting that process.

A second topic of discussion were the orientation events focused on sexual assault awareness. Each year, there is a speaker that talks about sexual assault and teaches incoming first years how to look out for themselves. This year’s speaker discussed knowing the rapists personally (as opposed to the “slap-grab-twist-pull” stranger rapist defense workshop of years past). Students concluded this year’s event was more beneficial, especially considering the fact that 90 percent of college rape victims know their perpetrator.

The issue of consent and how it is defined is not well known. Nor is there a universal 5C definition or policy yet, although one is reportedly in the works.