Minds Matter provides follow-up answers to sexual assault alternate chapel

By Eric Moore
Student Writer

On Nov. 20, the Chaplain Team, Minds Matter, and 6th Day Sexuality partnered together to present an alternate chapel on sexual assault. This chapel was dedicated to helping students have a better understanding of how sexual assault affects the campus, as well as how Messiah College responds to it as an institution.

Students at the chapel had the opportunity to submit anonymous, written questions to a faculty panel. The panel was comprised of Dave Downey, Doug Wood, Cindy Burger, and Marcelle Giovannetti.

While the panelists were able to answer many of the submitted questions, there were a few that were left unanswered at the end of the chapel due to time constraints. After the chapel, Minds Matter reached out to the panelists, and Wood and Giovannetti were able to provide answers to the remaining questions.

 

1) Is there any help for people who have been sexually assaulted off campus? 

Yes. Off campus counseling is available and you can call your health insurance company for a list of providers that are in the area that are covered by your specific insurance. It is important to keep in mind that if you are on your parent’s health insurance they may get a statement or bill from the insurance company that will indicate you are receiving services from that agency/ individual. In addition, the Engle Center maintains a list of mental health providers, including faith-based professionals, to whom students can be referred.

There are also free local support groups for survivors of sexual assault. Some local churches also have special support groups for women and men which include the topic of sexual assault. There are self-defense classes for women also available, which some women find helpful and empowering after an assault, as part of their healing process.

There are also volunteer opportunities at local rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters. These opportunities promote advocacy and help support both male and female survivors of assault. This might not be appropriate for all, as it could be a trigger, but some find it helpful to lend support as a way to make a tragic experience have meaning and purpose after they are further along in their own healing process.​

Answered by Marcelle Giovannetti

 

2) If a victim decided to carry out an investigation, what could happen to the suspect? Do these consequences keep people from reporting?

The alleged respondent could have several things be required of him/her during the course of the investigation. These include, but are not limited to, being required to maintain no contact with the complainant or risk suspension of enrollment, being reassigned one or more courses if there are class conflicts, being reassigned their housing assignment (if residential) or potentially losing their residential privileges altogether.  This would mean they could only come to campus for classes or have to complete distance learning if feasible.  Much of these requirements are dependent upon the circumstances of the case and unfolding investigation.

I wouldn’t classify these steps as ‘consequences’ although clearly what is being required of them does impact their experience at Messiah during the course of the investigation.  These measures may be temporary as well depending on the outcome of the investigation. However, these measures are put in place to provide protection not just for the complainant but also the respondent. Do they keep people from reporting? I am unsure. If a complainant chooses to come forward, their voice has weight as these determinations are made.

Answered by Doug Wood

 

3) How do administrators and campus officials help you (the complainant) during reporting? What is the influence of Title IX legislation?

Administrators help the complainant during reporting by caring for their health and emotional needs and providing much needed information for them to make decisions about pressing charges through the local police and/or filing a complaint through the college student conduct system.  Information on the process of the investigation is provided, including an explanation of their rights.  Ensuring that they have access to on and/or off campus health and emotional care is critical, including an explanation of the importance of timely evidence collection even if the complainant is unsure that they want to follow through with pressing charges and/or filing a complaint.  Also, certain protections from having to have any contact with the alleged respondent (see above) are also provided.

I think the influence of Title IX legislation on the landscape of colleges and universities in our country has had a positive impact in removing the stigma of sexual violence reporting. The legislation also provides mechanism of accountability that to ensure our communities are educating on this important topic and striving to maintain as safe a campus environment as possible.

Answered by Doug Wood

If you have any further questions relating to how Messiah handles sexual assault, here are faculty you can contact:

Marcelle Giovannetti, Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor at the Engle Center

mgiovannetti@messiah.edu

Doug Wood, Associate Dean of Students

dwood@messiah.edu

Cindy Burger, Director of Department of Safety

cburger@messiah.edu

Dave Downey, Director of Residence Life

ddowney@messiah.edu

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