Letters to the EditorNews

UGA Can Do More to Combat Sexual Assault

In response to “The Red Zone: Sexual Assaults on the UGA Campus Peak in the Fall,” (Oct. 1) David Schick does a fantastic job of analyzing the legal underreporting of sexual assault on campus, despite the fall peak in assaults, but fails to mention one other key component of sexual assault cases on college campuses. Besides The Cleary Act and necessary legal reporting of assaults on campus, there is one other entity working towards justice on the UGA campus: the Equal Opportunity Office, which is responsible for enforcing Title IX.

I think it would be incredibly interesting to see how UGA has actually enforced Title IX in regards to sexual assault, as most victims do not realize that there can be scholastic disciplinary action towards the perpetrators of assault. These punishments include, but are not limited to, changing class schedules, moving residence halls, suspension and even expulsion of students.

With the new reformation of the Anti-Discrimination Policy at UGA, it appears that the policy only further protects the university instead of providing a safe space for justice for survivors of assault, however. If the EOO determines that your situation is a “threat to the future safety of an individual University Community member or to the University Community as a whole which requires the EOO to investigate,” according to their webpage, the information you provide for reporting purposes may no longer be confidential like information under The Cleary Act is in regards to reporting to law enforcement officials. The survivor will be notified before the investigation is conducted, but there is nothing they can do to stop an investigation, if the EOO determines that there should be one.

After “Sexual Assaults at UGA—Often Fueled by Drinking—Go Unpunished” by Alex Laughlin ran in April, I was contacted by the EOO in order to file a report. I could not elaborate to them further than what was stated in the article, and my point of contact with the EOO sought me out, while I did not seek to report to the university. I was scared to report information, as I was concerned for the potential of breaching my confidential information, but I still agreed to a meeting and officially reported my assault to UGA.

This is an invaluable resource to those who could identify their attacker or had more information regarding their assault, but for me, this was not the case. However, as I did not know about this resource or how Title IX applied to sexual assault, I would have never known to seek this resource out, even if I could have reported something. However, this entity still appears as a protection mechanism for the university itself and not as a resource for survivors who wish to seek justice against their attackers, which is evident in the borderline non-existent statistics on suspensions or expulsions related to sexual assault cases.

While not all sexual assault cases on the University of Georgia campus involve students, I would leap to the assumption that many of them are, and hopefully justice can be served even further to those student survivors by providing a safe space and legitimate services for them to pursue. And maybe legitimate enforcement of sexual assault policies will create a heightened awareness of the punishments and repercussions in order to stop assaults before they happen.