COLUMN: Campus rape policy not good enough
The target ages for sexual assault victims are 18 to 24, an age range which includes most of the OU female student population.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, rape runs rampant on college campuses across the nation. Knowing this is an issue, what policies does OU have in place to help you out if you are OU’s next sexual assault victim? Woefully inadequate ones that do not work in favor of the victim.
Believe me, I know from experience.
As a survivor of rape, the healing process is an extremely lengthy one. Dealing with and moving on from the physical, emotional and mental trauma involved with rape is not an easy road.
Factor in that the rapist is a student and I constantly wonder when and where I am going to see him next. All of these factors are what made me decide to look into what policies the school has to offer students.
I was raped in January 2010 at a fraternity party.
This created some serious issues for me. It took me until May to decide I wanted to file a report. The OU Police Department was great working with me, taking my report and officers told me if I decided I wanted to press charges, I could come back at any time and do so.
However, the thought of pressing charges and going through everything involved with it, including confronting my perpetrator, was absolutely horrifying.
Since then, I have continued counseling and in December, I decided to contact OUPD again and see what my options would be for pressing charges and what all would be involved.
The officer called Student Affairs and when OUPD called me back, the department regrettably informed me that OU has a 30-day statute of limitations in the Student Code of Conduct. This means I would have had to make this decision 30 days after I filed the report.
Do you see the problems here?
First, OUPD needs to brush up on the policies it is supposed to be enforcing. The officers should have told me the day I reported that I had 30 school days from that point on to decide if I wanted to press charges. That never happened.
Second, consider this: 30 days. That is absolutely nothing in the spectrum of time it takes for a survivor of sexual assault to heal and be okay with making such a decision.
I think even if the department had done its job and properly informed me, I would have decided against it because I was so mortified by the thought. I had it in my mind that I would have been fighting all of the Greek community if I filed charges against one of its members. Seven months after reporting, I was feeling stronger in exploring options for filing charges. There’s a drastic difference in 30 days and seven months.
This statute is reasonable when it comes to vandalism, theft or getting caught with alcohol — none of which have the same traumatic affects on a person that sexual assault have.
Unfortunately, all of these things are covered under this same statute. The statute needs to be amended and have a policy included for sexual misconduct situations and the statute needs to be extended to a reasonable amount of time for victims to recover before forcing them to act.
The university needs to stop brushing sexual assault under the rug and saying it is not a university issue. When you have students raping students, it is a university issue. Especially when rapists are still walking campus and able to continually rape fellow students if they choose to do so.
Having such a short statute for this issue causes under reporting, something reflected in the university’s incredulous campus crime statistics (10 total sex offenses are reported to have occurred between 2006 and 2008).
These policy failures allow for rapists to go free. They can continually screw up women’s lives while they repeatedly get what they want and move on.
This policy is not all right and needs to be addressed.
— Jordan Ward, social sciences and women and gender studies sophomore