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In a study published in December by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) entitled “Sexual Assault on Campus: What Colleges and Universities Are Doing About It,” Lafayette is among eight schools recognized as having “promising practices in addressing sexual assault on campus.”

“I think what’s important is that we were recognized for what we had already accomplished without any outside prompting,” says Karen Forbes, director of counseling services. “Our policy includes a variety of reporting options for victims and the availability of an anonymous option, which the report really emphasized as being important. We also make strong statements that sexual assault is inconsistent with the values of our community and will not be tolerated. Our policy makes retaliation against victims a separate violation, and we provide 24/7 access to reporting through our sexual assault and counseling education (SACE) coordinators and the Office of Public Safety.”

Forbes is chair of the sexual assault oversight committee formed in fall 2004 by James Krivoski, vice president of Student Affairs. The committee’s goals are to expose all students to sexual assault information during each year of the college experience and to help them understand the College’s policies and procedures. Members of the student life staff, students, and Easton psychologist Jarrod Spencer ’96 meet monthly to examine the College’s response to sexual assault.

As an outside consultant, Spencer meets with all Lafayette athletic teams, sororities, and fraternities to initiate discussions on sexual assault. He covers topics such as appropriate response to victims, intervention in high-risk behavior, and methods to reduce personal risk.

According to Forbes, victims’ services at Lafayette go beyond the typical offerings of most colleges and universities. Representatives go to students in residence halls to discuss College policies and procedures, one of the practices highlighted in the NIJ study. The College also sends copies to all mailboxes and through email. Since the study was conducted, the committee has distributed wallet cards to all students with information on how to respond to sexual assault. At a recent brown bag discussion hosted by Association of Lafayette Feminists, the committee handed out flow charts detailing various options for reporting sexual assault. Members plan to revise the chart and distribute it to all students, faculty, and staff.

Grace Reynolds, associate director of residence life, and Patricia Martino, nurse at Bailey Health Center, share the 24-hour SACE duties. Resident advisers and peer counselors receive training on response to sexual assault. Both the Counseling Center and Bailey Health Center provide confidential counseling and support to victims. First-year students attend two programs during orientation related to sexual assault. Attorney Brett Sokolow, founder and president of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, returned to campus this year to conduct a program on the role of alcohol in sexual assault.

In addition to Krivoski’s office, the athletics department, under the direction of Bruce McCutcheon, has provided the committee with funding and support. As student committee members, Jenny Ziznewski ’06 (Metuchen, N.J.), a double major in English and philosophy, and Danielle Pollaci ’06 (Trenton, N.J.), a double major in English and international affairs, provide ideas and insights on how to reach students with information on sexual assault.

“Sexual Assault on Campus: What College and Universities Are Doing About It” is the first major survey of how higher education reports and handles the problem of sexual assault. NIJ is the research, development, and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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