Moravian College Struggles Against Sexual Assault

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Moravian College Struggles Against Sexual Assault

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Sexual assault is a growing problem on college campuses, affecting one in five women, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Moravian College is not exempt from this statistic.

A campus climate survey that was distributed to Moravian students in the Spring of 2018 revealed that a quarter of the students that entered campus had already experienced sexual assault, while a quarter faced assault on campus, according to Leah Breisch, Moravian’s Title IX coordinator.

In recent weeks, Moravian College has been facing a federal lawsuit, claiming that a student was raped, was declined assistance from her resident advisor, and was forced to remain in the same classes as the perpetrator, according to the Morning Call.

Despite these cases, Moravian College has numerous programs in place to combat sexual assault, including a full-time Title IX Coordinator to stop, prevent, and remedy gender-based discrimination on campus.

“Over the past 10 years, there has really been a goal of creating a culture of active support and reporting on our campus,” said Breisch.“We had a little bit of an uptick in reporting around 2014-2015, so [the College] made a conscious decision to create my position and put extra financial resources and people resources into actively addressing the issue of sexual violence on campus.”

In addition to Breisch’s services, Moravian College offers an Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Violence program for victims. The program was launched in the fall of 2010 to create a community of staff and faculty members who provide medical, academic, and emotional support to student survivors. The advocates also distribute information about the conduct and legal options or needs the student may have following an incident of sexual violence.

The advocates are chosen based on referrals from the College community and complete twenty hours of sexual violence training. During that time, the advocates learn the necessary expectations and protocols, according to Rosemarie Williams, Moravian’s staff counselor and outreach coordinator.

The training on how to handle sexual assault cases also extends to resident life staff members, who are given information on how to listen and to encourage the student to connect with an Advocate for Survivors of Sexual Violence. The staff member is then required to explain and fill out a report to Title IX, according to Liz Yates, associate dean of students.

Students have also played an active role in raising awareness and attempting to combat sexual assault with the recently established Hounds Against Sexual Assault (HASA). The club was created by co-presidents, Alexis Buck ‘19 and Michael Del Cioppo ‘19, in addition to Breisch and Williams.

“The motivation behind the creation of the club is to educate the Moravian College community about myths surrounding sexual violence through poster campaigns and documentary screenings,” said Buck. “I feel this organization is important to have on campus because through education, we can better ourselves and create more awareness regarding this issue.”

The club meets every other Friday in the HUB from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. People can get involved and find out more information by emailing [email protected].

Students can also take action by taking precautions in their dorms and advocating for people who  are in dangerous situations.

“The number one thing is to lock their doors,” said Breisch. “Talk with your roommate about what type of visitors you are comfortable with, and don’t hold the door open for someone that you don’t know.”

Another way to prevent sexual assault is to utilize “bystander strategies” at parties and other social interactions. Creating distractions and contacting an authority figure to intervene can help prevent sexual assault cases from happening.

“The fight to end sexual violence does not rest on just one person’s shoulders,” said Buck. “The problems that are faced does not affect just one gender, sexual orientation, it’s an issue that needs to be dealt with head on, and together as a community.”

For more information about consent, sexual assault, and the resources available to students that have experienced sexual assault visit https://www.moravian.edu/policy/sexual-misconduct.

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