Policy changes affect community’s knowledge of reports
A student reported a rape that occurred early Saturday morning at an undisclosed residence hall on campus.
The incident, which was reported to Public Safety at 10:17 the same morning, occurred at 2 a.m. in a dormitory on campus. The student who reported the rape identified the suspect, and the case was referred to the Dean of Student Development.
The incident was made public Monday through the Daily Crime Log published by Public Safety (Page 3). When asked why the incident was not made public when it was reported, college officials cited changes in policy and a stricter following of guidelines under the Clery Act, the federal law that outlines how crimes occurring on public spaces on or adjacent to college campuses are supposed to be disclosed to the public.
Originally, the college would alert the campus about sexual offenses when they were reported, regardless of whether or not there was a threat posed to the rest of campus. Under new college policy, the campus will only be alerted when Director of Public Safety Robert Sabattis believes that there is significant danger posed to members of campus, weighed against privacy rights of victims and suspects. Under Title IX, the privacy of all parties involved in sexual violence cases on campus is protected.
In this circumstance, Sabattis said he believed that the suspect did not pose a continuous threat to campus, and therefore it was deemed unnecessary to alert campus about the incident.
The new policies follow guidelines set out in the Clery Act, which calls for campus security forces to issue timely warnings for certain crimes “which pose a serious or ongoing threat to students and employees,” according to the Clery Center for Security on Campus. The Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting colleges deal with sexual assaults.
These changes are part of an ongoing effort on campus regarding how the college deals with sexual assaults. Last year, the college brought in the executive director of the Clery Center to evaluate the effectiveness of Lafayette’s sexual assault policies. In response to the feedback given by the Center, The Office of Intercultural Development has made new resources available for victims of sexual assault.