By Seth Morin
Franklin College is not immune to crime – even sexual misconduct, with three cases reported already this year.
Sexual misconduct includes any incident of sexual assault, unwanted sexual interaction or statutory rape.
Steve Leonard, director of security at Franklin College, said the policy is almost always under review by himself, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Ellis Hall, Director of Employee Resources Maureen Pinnick and Vice President for Business and Finance Dan Schluge.
“The laws are always changing,” Leonard said. “It’s ever-changing to stay up-to-date with current laws, current mandates from the federal government as well as making it make sense for the users.”
Under the section titled “Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures,” the college gives definitions of sexual offenses from the Clery Act and says what to do to take legal action.
The Clery Act is a federal law that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses.
The Clery Act also requires colleges and universities to do the following:
- Publish an annual security report by Oct. 1 that documents the past three years of campus crime statistics. The report must be available to all current students and employees, and prospective students must be notified of its existence and be given a copy upon request.
- Have a public crime log that provides the nature, date, time and general location of each crime and its disposition, if known.
- Disclose crime statistics for incidents that occur anywhere on campus and at public places not on campus, including Greek houses and off-campus classrooms.
- Report on crimes, such as criminal homicide, sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson, liquor law violations, drug law violations and illegal weapons possession. They also must report on hate crimes, which include larceny/theft, simple assault, intimidation and destruction/damage/vandalism of property.
- Issue timely warnings about Clery Act crimes, which pose a serious or ongoing threat to students and employees. The crimes must be reported in a manner that is timely and will aid in the prevention of similar crimes.
- Devise an emergency response, notification and testing policy.
Leonard and Hall decide when to issue the “timely warnings.”
The college has until October of this year to report on crimes that occurred during the 2014 calendar year, according to federal law.
“Those results for 2014 are not going to come out until next year, in January of 2016,” said Susan Leach-Murray, an assistant professor in library/technical services, who has done extensive research into the college’s policies and procedures concerning sexual assault.
The college does keep their crime log updated frequently, Leach-Murray said. The log is available upon request in the security office during business hours, Monday through Friday.
Leach-Murray said she believes the college could do more, though. She thinks emails with statistics, which would exclude the victim’s name, could be sent to students and employees.
“We’re saying we are trying to raise awareness,” Leach-Murray said. “But are we really doing everything we can to really do that, that is within our power?”
Leonard said notifications sent to the entire campus should prevent the college community from becoming victims of similar crimes.
He said in most of the instances of sexual assault, they are not reported directly after they happen.
“It’s the next morning or the next Monday when they talk to a counselor or their RA or whoever they choose to report it to,” he said. “There is not the immediacy.”
Leonard said one of the reasons why emails are not sent out on an everyday basis is so there is no information overload.
“When I send an alert, I want people to pay attention because they need to do something right now,” he said. “There is a danger to you, and that is why I am sending it to you.
To help prevent and make more people aware of sexual misconduct, resident assistants are required to partake in training activities prior to the start of the school year.
RAs, residence hall coordinators, counselors, security officers, the campus minister and the dean of students must follow a procedure to report the sex crime. This procedure is outlined in “The Key.”
A form must be filled out and given to Leonard. The form allows for the victim to remain anonymous, something security sees as a vital part of the process.
“Many times, victims don’t want to pursue it any further,” Leonard said. “But we still need to know that it happened for our crime reporting statistics.”
The form gives information as to what the nature of the crime was, where it happened, who was involved, the date, and the time but nothing that gives away the victim’s name.
The people involved in the process of the investigation – such as the RAs, dean of students, and counselors – are required to offer counseling, medical attention and whatever the victim needs to help them through the situation
“We don’t want to meet the bare minimum of the law,” Leonard said. “We want to do what is right and what’s best for the campus community and the victims.”
To access the college’s policy on sexual misconduct and procedures, go to myFC and click on the Security department tab. From there, click on “Annual Security Reports” in the bottom left.