Upper classmen at Ferris may have some recollection of the sexual assaults that have occurred on campus in the past few years which jumped from four reported cases of forcible assault in 2004, to nine in 2007.
In a research study entitled “Sexual Assault on Campus: What Colleges and Universities are doing about it” done by the National Institute of Justice, “Just under three percent of all college women become victims of rape (either completed or attempted) in a given nine month academic year.” The study goes on to say, “the percentage translates into…35 such crimes for every 1,000 women students.”
Ferris appears to be well under that average, despite the increase in cases in recent years.
DPS Police Chief Martin Bledsoe said “we take a very comprehensive approach to sexual assault…and work with other areas of campus.”
He also stated that there are many programs that are in place to aid in prevention of assault and responding aggressively when a situation arises. Some of these include the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) program, working closely with student affairs and residential life, teaching students about defense in FSUS 100 classes, and many others.
Another noticeable change over the past few years is the blue light phones on campus. Bledsoe said that the number of them has increased from seven, to now 40 currently present on campus.
While the police and other programs are working to help keep this rate as low as possible, the issue should also be looked at from an inside angle.
In a recent case of alleged rape involving two FSU students, the male student shared some of his thoughts with the Torch on the situation. The source wishes to remain anonymous due to the ongoing court proceedings.
“I haven’t been given a fair trial, it’s seems like no one cares what happens to me,” said the FSU student in regards to his situation. “I’ve been kicked out of school and can’t return even though I only need two classes to finish out my degree and graduate!”
The source feels that situation has not been thoroughly understood because of precedent and stereotypes regarding cases of this nature.
Sexual assault is an emotional issue that can prompt strong viewpoints from both parties.
The female involved in this situation, who will also remain anonymous, said, “The worst part about court is that once you are in the process of getting over what happened, the court proceedings start so you have to re-live it all over again, right when you are finally getting closer to a normal life.” She went on to say, “There isn’t a sexual assault stereotype about either the assailant or the victim, it really can be anyone.”
Situations like this are not that uncommon at Ferris and the nature and circumstances of them should be stressed to students to know what to look for.
Hannah Henry, a FSU senior in the psychology program, commented on sexual assault at Ferris saying, “I feel that Ferris does a good job dealing with a sexual assault case after it has happened…but I don’t see any efforts of Ferris to prevent it.”
While sexual assault happens quite frequently on college campuses, it has also been a topic of interest for many major news outlets. Questions concerning sexual assault have been on the minds of many and the curiosity often arises, “are the laws and consequences concerning sexual offenders fair?”
An Aug. 8 article in The Economist titled Unjust and Ineffective said, “laws get harsher and harsher. But that does not necessarily mean they are getting better.” The article also commented on the stigma many offenders face, even the minor ones, that, “Some bosses do not mind hiring sex offenders, if they know the full story and the offender does not seem dangerous.”
This is one of the concerns of the male here at FSU who is now facing court and possible prison time for alleged rape.
He said, “just because a girl says something happened, I could be going to jail and the rest of my life could be ruined.”
As many students know, alcohol and other substances can play a large role in these situations. Memories can be muddled and “consent” may take on a whole new meaning.
According to the Ferris State handbook, “If physical sexual contact occurs and there is a lack of consent (or a person is not able to consent) or force is involved, a sexual assault most likely has occurred. Lack of consent is a crucial factor.”
This is not to say that this is the scenario of the case that is referred to in this article, but this definition provides a clear message for what students should be aware of when a situation may be bordering on assault.
For victims or students who have been involved in an incident of sexual assault, reported or not, Ferris offers a counseling center as well as a Crisis Hotline. More information on these can be found on the Ferris web site.