Home Campus APD and OUPD police chiefs met with Graduate Student Senate to discuss campus sexual assault

APD and OUPD police chiefs met with Graduate Student Senate to discuss campus sexual assault

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Graduate Senate Senate also voted to endorse the Center for Student Legal Services and to approve application for election candidacy.

The Ohio University Police Department and Athens Police Department police chiefs addressed Graduate Student Senate on Wednesday to discuss sexual assault at Ohio University.

OUPD Police Chief Andrew Powers said the best way to prevent sexual assault is to change the culture on campus. He said sexist jokes, condoning inappropriate behavior, and attitudes toward minorities all feed into the problem on college campuses.

“It’s not until all of you start pushing back on your peers that the problem will really get solved,” Powers said.

Eighty-one percent of all sexual assaults occur in private spaces, Powers said. Assault on campus is usually committed by somebody that the victim knows, rather than being committed by somebody unknown to the victim on the street, Powers said.

APD Chief Tom Pyle doubted the ability of law enforcement to prevent a majority of sexual assaults that occur.

“Preventing sexual assault is not something law enforcement expects to prevent with any success,” Pyle said.

Pyle also said that before August, APD received 13 reports of sexual assault — 9 of the 13 cases were dropped — and only one resulted in an indictment. Pyle said this is because survivors often choose not to pursue legal action against the suspect.

“A lot of people come at it and look at law enforcement and say ‘you’re not doing enough, you’re not prosecuting, you’re not doing further investigation,’” Pyle said. “But in actuality, the lion’s share of these cases were basically stopping because the survivors have chosen not to pursue the matter.”

However, Pyle said that the current prosecutor is far more aggressive in pursuing sexual assault cases and helping survivors pursue legal action than previous prosecutors.

When asked about the process of investigating the sexual assaults, Pyle described the investigations as comprehensive, yet sensitive to the victims. Pyle said APD tries to interview the survivors as few times as possible and reduce the trauma of reliving the experience.

Powers said that often, the way that a trauma victim remembers a traumatic event is not the same way that one would recall a normal event. Powers compared this to a puzzle being thrown on the ground and having the memories scattered everywhere.

“In the end, we have to respect the survivor’s process of recovery,” Powers said.

GSS also voted on two bills related to the Center for Student Legal Services (CSLS).

The body voted unanimously to endorse the renewal of the CSLS. The CSLS’s contract with the university expires this year, and needs to be renewed by the university.

The CSLS represents students charged with offenses from underage drinking to legal disputes with landlords.

Brett Fredericksen, department of environment and biology representative, said program enrollment in the past three years has remained consistent around 10,000, with fluctuations of less than 100 participants.

GSS also voted unanimously to endorse the fee increase for the CSLS. The fee will increase from $12 to $15, should the contract be renewed.

Frederickson defended the cost hike, saying it was a marginal cost for the benefit received.

“I think it’s a bargain of a service to have,” Fredericksen said. “It’s a steal for any other legal issues that could be arising in your life. Even $50, that’s still a steal.”

In other business:

  • GSS voted unanimously to add a department representative for educational studies.
  • GSS voted unanimously to approve the application for election candidacy.
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