Trigger Warning: Sensitive topic dealing with sexual assault.
Drake University students recently received an email titled “Timely Warning: Notification of a Campus Crime.” This Timely Warning detailed that a sexual assault had happened on the Drake University campus along with information for safety. It’s no secret that universities have sexual assaults. We have been witnessing the fight against sexual assault on college campuses for years.
Sexual assault is a difficult topic that not many people want or know how to discuss. Drake University has several resources to help their students with handling the topic or event of sexual assault. Title IX is a law that came into place in 1972 that states you cannot discriminate based on sex in educational activities or opportunities. Recently, it includes sexual harassment, assault and violence.
Students can report sexual assaults, harassment and violence on the Title IX page on the Drake University website. Students can also report to Public Safety or any mandatory reporter on campus (i.e. professor, RA or administrator). Reporting to any of these people would make the University aware of the situation. Students can also report to Polk County Crisis and Advocacy.
“I think the biggest myth I see is the fear,” said Katie Overberg, the Title IX coordinator. “I think there are more people out there who need our services but are afraid to come forward because they think we might take it out of their hands or force them to go into a formal process when that’s not what they want. The formal process is there for any student who wants to use it … The biggest thing I want them (students) to know is they’ve got choices if they come to me or Lynne [Cornelius].”
There are several programs on campus that allow students to acquire help and to help other students. These programs include Define the Line, Respect the Line, Mentors in Violence Prevention and Violence Intervention Partner. These programs supply confidential resources to share your story and get the help you may want or need. The Drake Counseling Center is another resource that is free and confidential.
Drake’s sexual violence numbers have remained consistent, according to Scott Law, the director for Campus Public Safety. Drake’s 2016 Annual Security and Fire Report showed that nine rape cases and two fondling cases have occurred on and off campus involving Drake students. However, only a small number of students make a report.
“When you take our numbers and compare them to universities with similar size and make-up, our numbers are pretty consistent, and I think, realistically, Drake puts forth a lot of effort … to try and make sure our students feel comfortable reporting issues to us,” Law said.
Drake University offers several options when it comes to approaching students and survivors with this difficult topic. Survivors can have anything from a conversation with a VIP to starting an investigation with Public Safety. Cornelius, Law and Overberg’s goals were in sync: getting the students help when they need it.