Ms. Bailey Beem’s story blew me away. Her honesty regarding her rape could not have been easy to recount, much less share with the campus community. As Editor in Chief, what further impressed me was her decision to attach her name to the piece after I offered her anonymity.
As a first-year, I remember hearing the Consent is Sexy story of Todd and Amy at my orientation and asking myself who would be affected by this. As a senior female, I’ve had close friends go through the horror of rape both here and at other schools, and that experience radically shapes a woman’s life.
Her honesty and courage about a subject that is too easily swept under the rug made me want to examine rape at Albion College a little closer. I feel like we, as a society, are making great strides as a whole to talk about rape, but sometimes it’s so hard to talk about it when it’s close to home. My goal for these rape pieces is to encourage a greater dialogue on our campus about the real face of rape.
All the information obtained for this piece was found online and with an interview with Ken Snyder, assistant dean of community standards and director of Campus Safety. As with Beem, I do know that women can commit rape and men can be raped, but overall, I am focusing on the larger issue of women being raped.
According to 2012 Annual Security Report emailed to students and staff in late September, there were three forcible reported rapes on campus in 2012 and two in 2011 and 2010. Subsets of those numbers are rapes reported in residence halls, including fraternities, apartments and houses. There have been two reported forcible rapes on the last three years in residence halls.
Looking back further shows that maybe we are in a downward trend in number of rapes. In 2009, there were four forcible rapes reported on campus, nine in 2008 and two in 2007. Of those numbers all four were in Residence Halls in 2009, all nine in 2008 and one in 2007.
Snyder cited the common statistic that out of every 10 rapes, one is reported and doesn’t believe Albion is much different.
“I don’t think are numbers are much better than that, I don’t know that but I think it’s safe to guess that we had more than two sexual assaults on campus last year,” Snyder said.
He believes students do not come forward for several reasons. It’s also important to note that the average time gone by from the assault to the report is a semester.
“In my experience… one of the reasons they don’t report or report right away is that the first person they talk to doesn’t believe them,” Snyder said. “They may not have overtly said ‘I don’t believe you’ but they say things like ‘Are you sure? You drank a lot last night, He’s a really nice guy, I can’t see him doing that.’ Or making other comments such as ‘Oh if you report that it may cause a hassle for the sorority, fraternity, the team” so often the first person who talks to them discourages them not on purpose, they probably think they’re being helpful.”
Another reason Snyder described why people do not come forward is the belief of survivor that it will just be their words against the perpetrator in an investigation, which is not true. The point of the investigation is to see if there is any more evidence. He also believes that the size of Albion effects the number of people coming forward, the belief that everyone will know who filed the report against whom.
Consent seems to be the difficult concept for our culture to absorb. As Beem wrote, we should change the “no means no” campaign to the “only yes means yes.” The college handbook defines consent as “willingly and verbally agreeing to specific sexual contact or conduct.” And under this policy, no one impaired by alcohol, drugs, and/or prescribed medication can consent; no one under duress or has been threatened or pressured can consent.
Even though we enter Albion College educated about consent, the definition of consent seems to still be blurry. Snyder agrees that the line of consent seems hard to define.
“There is some confusion with consent, like I came back to his room or he came back to mine, does that mean I consented? Or I said we could kiss, but I really didn’t want to have sex, does that mean I consented?” Snyder said.
My own two cents on consent is this: every situation is different. But if there is even a shadow of a doubt in your mind, or even the smallest concern that someone isn’t in the right place to consent for any reason, just don’t. It’s not worth it to either person in the situation to deal with the consequences.
A report funded by the U.S. Department of Justice indicates one in five college females will be sexually assaulted. This report was based on a study done at two large public universities. If this statistic is divided out among the roughly 600 women at Albion, the number of women who face sexual assault is 120.
Consider: 120 women. This could be your sorority sister, your teammate or the person who sits next to you in class. She has a face, she has a name, she could be you.
And if it is you, there are options. Call a sexual assault counselor; contact Campus Safety, Student Health Services or the Anna Howard Shaw Women’s Center. If there is one thing that four years at Albion has taught me, every single person on this campus is willing to help you out.
Photo via Albion College
I find Kenneth Snyder’s comments on why women are less likely to report sexual assault a little offensive, as he said some of the same words to a rape victim just a couple of years ago. My friend was raped in her dorm room, and when she got the courage to go to campus safety and report it, Kenneth Snyder tried to encourage her to recant, as she had been drinking, and he said her statements were unreliable, and campus safety would have to charge her with underage drinking. Needless to say, that scared her from going any further.
I love that people on campus are being vocal about this issue! This is a great article, and the other article that it refers to is also outstanding! Way to go!
As for Karen’s comment, I have to agree with her. Based on my own experiences at Albion College, as well as information I received from other students about their experiences with Snyder, being told things that are insensitive and outright offensive while asking for help is not an uncommon experience. I am sorry that your friend had to deal with that.
I am sorry if you have received incorrect information, but your statements are completely false. I have NEVER encouraged a survivor of sexual assault to recant a statement, and as a matter of policy the College does not charge survivors who have been drinking with violating the College policy about drinking while under 21. That does not happen on this campus. The statements I made above were given as examples of what survivors have told me about why they were hesitant to report or delayed reporting a sexual assault. They are not what I have EVER said to survivors who reported their experience to me.
While I am not perfect, I believe that in my career as a detective and here at Campus Safety I have been very effective when dealing with sexual assault survivors. One of the most gratifying moments of my time here was when a former student who was a survivor came to campus to do a presentation on sexual assault. After graduation she had begun working in the field of survivor advocacy, and during her presentation she mentioned that the fact that I told her I believed her when she first reported the incident to me was a key part of her healing process.
I am responding to this post because I don’t want it to further discourage anyone from reporting a sexual assault. Survivors who have doubts about Campus Safety or Albion Public Safety’s sensitivity can always contact Sexual Assault Services and request that an advocate go with them to make a report. There are also local faculty, and students who are trained as sexual assault advocates who can assist with reporting. It is fine to bring someone with you to make a report to either agency.