By Natalie Camrud '17
When it comes to sexual assault statistics at Scripps, Jennifer Berklas, the Title IX coordinator at Scripps, says that this year they predict that there will be about 12-15 reports of sexual assault or misconduct. About 30% of the reports are from previous years. This number is so much smaller than the national average, which is that one in four college women will experience attempted or completed sexual assault during their college years. Sexual assaults are so underreported here because reporting an assault is a very stressful and invasive process, so what is Scripps doing to make the procedure easier for victims? How are they protecting their privacy and helping them get help to work through the shame and guilt that they feel, even though they shouldn’t feel that way at all. “The highest priority concern of the Scripps staff when a student reports a sexual assault is providing support for the student”, says Berklas.
One resource for support is the Scripps Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault, a student-run group that supports survivors of assault. Laura Kent, a member of Advocates said, “Student volunteers work on our phone line to provide resources and support to survivors of sexual assault and we also do programming aimed at raising awareness about sexual assault and rape culture especially in the college context.”
Laura also said, “Scripps Advocates has support from the administration and through that relationship we work with Assistant Dean of Students, Marla Love, who acts as our advisor and liaison between the administration and Advocates.” Only after appropriate support and counseling is provided for the student the administration will help them consider different reporting options and will help them through the process of reporting, the investigation, and perhaps a hearing. In addition, each of the 5c’s has their own sexual assault policy, and the policy of the respondent’s school is used; since Scripps students are very rarely the respondents of sexual assaults, the Scripps policy is rarely used, which can make victims feel like their own school can’t even protect them.
However, according to Berklas, there is a 7C title IX coordinator group that meets regularly to discuss policy and ways to coordinate and communicate across the 5C’s. Maybe changing the Scripps orientation sexual assault program could help inform students even more and show them the emotional and raw side to sexual assault. For incoming freshmen this September, Claremont McKenna and Pitzer’s freshmen orientation sexual assault program is a showing of “The Date”, performed by the Peer health educators at the Health Education Outreach. Elizabeth Wilmott, director of the HEO, says, “The Date is a series of interactive monologues. It navigates potential sexual assault scenarios among a group of college students, and specifically the intersection of sexual assault and alcohol”. CMC and Pitzer chose “The Date” due to its success at Washington State University, St. Louis. If it is successful here perhaps the rest of the schools will pick it up, since it is has more of an impact than just reading a list of statistics. Even if a student doesn’t feel ready to report an assault until weeks or months after the assault happened, Scripps will still be there to support you during the process. If you have a friend who has been assaulted, do not pressure them into reporting, the best thing you can do is listen and support them.