By Kayla Lemay
In the wake of the three sexual assaults last month, Bridgewater State University is doing its best to make its resources more widely known.
In particular, BSU officials are stressing that students affected by sexual misconduct speak to the Title IX Coordinator. BSU has has this position for some time, but it was recently filled by a new face.
Erin DeBobes serves as BSU’s Title IX Coordinator and Director of Non-discrimination and Equal Opportunity.
“My office investigates complaints of discrimination and harassment, or any bias-related incident, and that includes any allegations that would fall under sexual misconduct, relationship violence, stalking, and anything like that under the Student Code,” she said.
In terms of being the Title IX Coordinator, DeBobes is another option for students affected by any sexual misconduct.
“There’s a lot of authority in my position to investigate it or provide remedies for them, or protective types of services, that are a little bit different than the police,” she said.
“It’s almost a different option, because it’s not criminal, it’s the civil side.”
On Tuesday, President Dana Mohler-Faria held an open forum with the Student Government Association regarding the recent sexual assaults. He introduced the Presidential Task Force on Sexual Assault Prevention, which consists of board members, trustees, alumni, faculty, and students.
“We’re asking them to really look into these issues. How can we create a safer campus? What are the resources we need? How can we educate our students?” he said of the Task Force.
DeBobes was glad that the campus and Bridgewater community was taking such a vested interest in light of the recent sexual assaults.
“I think that there’s sort of this understanding that these issues happen on our campus, they happen on every campus,” she said. “So I think the fact that people in the campus community are more aware of that, it’s helpful because we can work together towards creating the best environment for everyone.”
DeBobes said that her office is creating a bystander intervention training program, aimed to help witnesses and friends of those that have been assaulted. They are working on administering more training to the campus community.
She urged that those affected by sexual assaults reach out to confidential counseling at the very least. She said it’s a good option for those that are unsure where to go about it, but don’t want anyone else to know what happened.
“We’re taking this very seriously. We have been and we will continue to do that,” DeBobes said. “If anybody wants to discuss their concerns, then I’m open to that. I want people to know that their voices are being heard, and that we take those things into account, and we’re addressing this.”
Kayla Lemay is the Editor-in-Chief. Follow her on Twitter @klemay123.