FratPAC’s proposal about sexual assault is deplorable

Katie Smith, Editor-in-Chief

On Tuesday, Bloomberg News reported the Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Team (FratPAC) will lobby at Capitol Hill April 29 to request the criminal justice system resolve sexual assault cases before universities investigate them or assign punishments.

This is not only shameful and disgusting but also wildly irresponsible.

When sexual assault takes place on a college campus it is both a criminal offense and Title IX violation. Just as someone should be punished for violating another human being’s sexuality, they should also be punished for doing so in a space where individuals are meant to feel safe and secure.

At Eastern, survivors of sexual assault can report to any combination of three places on campus: the University Police Department, the Office of Student Standards and the Office of Civil Rights and Diversity.  Having these options allows someone who has been assaulted the power to choose how the incident is reported and followed through with.

Requiring the criminal justice system to resolve these cases before a university can begin to conduct their own investigation denies a survivor his or her right to chose not to be involved in a legal battle with their attacker, violates Title IX laws and would ultimately further discourage people from reporting sexual assault, which has already been found to be under-reported.

University disciplinary boards have the ability to expel or suspend someone accused of sexual assault so the person who made the report can feel continue their education without worrying about whether or not their attacker is around the corner.

What FratPAC wants to accomplish is less frequent punishment applied to their chapters for the wrong doings of one of its members, regardless of the effects such a decision would have on the entire reporting process and well-being of survivors of sexual assault.

Bloomberg also reported that while the process of reporting sexual assault on college campuses is arguably difficult, triggering and disappointing, some scholars are suggesting university reporting systems are unfavorable to the accused.

I have said it before but I will say it again. According to research performed by the National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women, only an estimated 2 to 8 percent of reports are false. Every time I am brought to repeat that information the faith I have in my peers to practice compassion and support for one another dwindles.

Making it harder to report sexual assault is not the solution to a fraternity’s suspension, education is. The better we educate college campuses in their entirety – professors, administrators, students, service workers, everyone – and inform survivors of assault what their legal options are, perhaps then there will be less punishment. Penalties should be fewer and further between because there are less instances of sexual assault, not because survivors are cheated out of their options for reporting.

 

Katie Smith is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]