By Alex Graf
Despite new rules proposed by the federal government that would increase protections for those accused of sexual misconduct on college campuses along with more rigidly defining sexual harassment, California State University, Dominguez Hills policies on sexual misconduct will remain the same until the university is notified by the CSU Chancellor’s office.
“Until new rules are imposed by the Department of Education, CSUDH will continue adhering to the standards set forth by the chancellor’s office,” said CSUDH Title IX Officer Elizabeth Schrock.
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos proposed the new rules Aug. 28. They include narrowing the definition of sexual harassment, limiting school accountability to formal complaints filed only through proper authorities and only for incidents that happen on campus, and setting a higher legal standard to determine whether schools properly address complaints, according to an Aug. 29 story in The New York Times.
Megan Adams, the director of the CSUDH Women’s Resource Center, said the proposed changes perpetuate the idea that many claims of sexual misconduct by survivors are false.
“Evidence shows the vast majority of claims are reputable,” Adams said.
Adams promised the Women’s Resource Center will stand with survivors, make efforts to educate the campus community and counteract the “victim-blaming myth” perpetuated by the Department of Education.
Schrock said most sexual violence on campus goes unreported to campus officials and law enforcement.
“Just noting the number of reports does not provide an accurate depiction of the breadth of the issue,” Schrock said. “In my opinion, the rate that CSUDH students experience sexual violence is likely similar to the rate for students at other university campuses across the U.S.”
In 2015, the American Association of Universities released a study of students at 27 universities and found that 11.7 percent of students had experienced nonconsensual sexual contact (including sexual assault or battery), but only 5 to 28 percent had reported it to campus officials or law enforcement.”
In a review of campus police records, The Bulletin found four instances of rape reported over the last two years.
According to Schrock, she received 25 reports of sexual misconduct (which includes sexual assault and battery) and 30 reports of sexual harassment from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018. Of these, she said 21 led to full investigations.
“To clarify why there are more reports than the number of investigations, students and employees often report experiencing misconduct or harassment off-campus or before arriving at CSUDH, and are reaching out to me to seek services such as referrals to supportive resources, information, accommodations, safety planning, and assistance with reporting to the police,” Schrock said.
For students who want to prevent sexual violence on campus, Schrock recommends being an “active bystander.”
“Students should step in when they see a risky or escalating situation using tactics like distracting from the situation or getting friends and other resources to assist them in directly intervening,” said Schrock. “Generally, attending or hosting events and having conversations with peers about healthy relationships, healthy masculinity, the importance of consent, bystander intervention and risk reduction can help prevent sexual misconduct and encourage the growth of these norms at CSUDH.”
The Title IX office also offers a number of resources for victims, including assistance in reporting an incident to the police, conducting intake interviews for a university investigation, and providing information about the confidential advocate and free medical exam at the Rape Treatment Center.