By Marissa Bean
A recent outbreak of sexual assaults on campus has brought Bridgewater State University’s Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence policy onto center stage.
The full 22-page policy can be found in the student handbook on the school website.
However, as students are unlikely to go online to read the entire policy, flyers have been posted around campus with the same information from the full policy, but in a shorter version.
Sexual misconduct is defined by the policy as “non-consensual sex or contact, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, sexual exploitation, statutory rape, and incest.”
Relationship violence refers to “domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.”
The university has, in its policy, included a list of options available to those who are victims of sexual misconduct or relationship violence immediately after an incident occurs.
One option is to seek confidential counseling, either from the Counseling Center, located on campus in Weygand Hall, or from a community resource, including the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.
Medical attention is a second option. According to the policy, a victim “can receive health care to treat injuries and medication to prevent infections or pregnancy.”
Resources available include Health Services in Weygand Hall or the Brockton Hospital emergency room.
The third option is reporting the incident to the police or the Title IX Coordinator. Though reporting sexual misconduct or relationship violence is not mandatory, victims can call the BSU Police Department or the Bridgewater town Police Department.
Maya Dinsmore, a freshman majoring in accounting, has never seen the flyers before, and she has never read the policy.
She figured the school had a policy regarding sexual misconduct and relationship violence, but she didn’t know where the full policy could be found.
Dinsmore said, “I’ve seen more stuff about alcohol,” and not sexual assault or relationship violence.
It could be easy to assume that new students aren’t aware of the policy because they arrived on campus less than two months ago. However, students that have been here longer are not aware of the policy either.
Sarah Long, a sophomore majoring in Special Education, thinks students haven’t been well-informed that there is a policy in place.
“I think that if they wanted people to actually care about it, especially with all these instances of sexual misconduct happening, then they would have made it a much bigger deal than just hanging flyers around with a bunch of words on it. No one’s going to stop and read that,” Long said.
Dan Cabral, a junior majoring in economics, has also seen the flyers, but has never read them them in their entirety.
“A couple of weeks ago, I did stop to briefly read it but it was too long and too wordy for me,” Cabral said of the flyers. “I did see it once next to the RA’s room.”
Neither Long or Cabral have ever read the full policy, and Cabral admitted that he wasn’t aware of the policy’s existence.
It’s clear that the sexual misconduct and relationship violence policy isn’t as well-known as it should be. Recent events have made knowledge of the policy more important than ever.
It’s time to change how and where students can find the information they need to ensure the safety of everyone.
Marissa Bean is a Comment staff writer. Follow her on Twitter @MarLaur16.