In response to the reported cases of sexual assault on campus last fall, many in the Oakland University community began questioning the ways in which cases were being handled. There were also concerns regarding how future cases may be prevented.
These concerns sparked discussion about Oakland University policy as well as how the institution identifies with legislations such as ‘yes means yes.’
According to a study conducted by the Association of American Universities, 23 percent of female college students surveyed stated that they experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact. This can range from kissing to rape that was conducted with force or threat of force.
With this, one may begin to question how statistics such as this are being combatted in the Oakland University campus community.
According to the 2014 Annual Security & Fire Safety Report, there are three definitions of consent which are broken down according to federal, state and specific Oakland University policies.
“Clery law mandates that sexual assault cases are handled in a certain way,” Mark Gordon, Oakland University chief of police, said.
“As a university, we comply to a definition of consent which offers similar language to that of the ‘yes means yes’ legislation which was introduced in the state of California in 2014. We comply to the basis of the ‘yes means yes’ legislation under the spirit of the law.”
The ‘yes means yes’ legislation outlines the concept of affirmative consent.
According the official ‘yes means yes’ legislation, affirmative consent requires those participating in sexual activity to provide “an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision” before becoming involved in a sexual encounter.
Aside from the progress being made toward this legislation on the state level, Oakland University is pushing to educate and inform students on the topic of sexual assault in a variety of ways. Recently, the Center of Student Activities and Leadership Development began implementing different prevention programs for students.
These activities include The Vagina Monologues on Feb. 5 and 6, a Sexual Assault Awareness Mock Trial on Feb. 8, the Spring Break Awareness Fair on Feb. 16, Denim Day on April 4 and a Drag Show on April 17.
There are other prevention programs and initiatives that are being organized through the Oakland University Office of Inclusion.
“We are working to create an environment where students can feel comfortable reporting their cases without fear of handling criminal prosecution,” Gordon said.
By changing this atmosphere of reporting, we can help victims seek and receive the mental, emotional and physical help they need, while emphasizing the importance of stepping forward. These encounters are never the victim’s fault.
For more information about ways to become involved and attend the various campus sexual assault prevention programs, contact the Center for Student Activities and Leadership Development, OUPD, Student Congress or the Office of Inclusion.