Montclair State University released its annual crime statistics report, otherwise known as the Clery report, on Oct. 1. The most prominent part of this report is the fact that there were nine rapes, three sexual assaults, seven acts of dating violence and 15 acts of domestic violence last year on Montclair State’s campus.
Out of the nine rapes reported on campus in 2018, seven of them were in residence halls.
Karen Pennington, Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life, explained why they might happen on campus.
“You have to also remember that most incidents occur on campus, and particularly in the cases that might be rape or sexual assault [they] are not strangers, they are people who [you know],” Pennington said. “It is hard for us to keep it safe when you invite a person in.”
As reported by Rapes, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), 11.2% of all students experience rape or sexual assault.
Kieran Barrett, captain of the university police department explained the reports.
“Each [occurrence] had a victim, and each one had a perpetrator in those cases,” Barrett said. “Whether they filed a charge is entirely separate, they have that choice.”
When it comes to sexual assault, Montclair State has multiple avenues to go to in order to report an assault. The university also provides different health and counseling services for victims to turn to, such as Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). If a student brings information of an assault to a faculty member, they are obligated to report that to the police department.
Jeanette Bednar, a senior acting major, discussed where she would go if a sexual assault happened to her.
“I would tell my advisor because I have a close relationship with my advisor, but also [I would] go to CAPS,” Bednar said.
Hamal Strayhorn, the director for the office of Social Justice and Diversity, explained a good solution for those who do not want the police involved, but want someone to talk to.
“For those who are looking to talk with people confidentiality: the women’s center,” Strayhorn said. “Two people in my office are confidential advocates, Suzanne Pasquino and Ebony Jackson. Students can come to them as advocates of the university if they have been sexually assaulted and do not want to report activity to the university police.”
According to Strayhorn, if a student came to them but did not want the assault reported for a title IX investigation or a criminal investigation, it would not be. It would, however, have to be identified as a report of sexual assault and would be published in the Clery report.
There are places to go and speak to someone privately where they are required to keep the matters confidential. The gender-based conduct/sexual harassment policy states that different individuals employed by Montclair State are required to keep these conversations private. Students can find these resources through the University Health Center, The Office for Social Justice and Diversity, the Women’s Center, CAPS and religious leaders.
“It does not have to be investigated because they’re confidential resources on campus, we just provide a resource for students,” Strayhorn said. “We want to give a person the opportunity to make some decisions for themselves since their decisions have been taken away from them.”
Michele Castino, a junior majoring in hospitality management, shared ways to protect yourself on campus.
“Have ways to protect yourself, like pepper spray, or maybe a small pocket knife, in case of emergencies. I always carry around pepper spray,” Castino said.
Though students are not allowed to carry weapons, such as knives, on campus or in the dorms, the police department does offer a self-defense class on Mondays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. called “Street Smart Self-Defense.”
If you have been sexually assaulted, or know someone who has, do not hesitate to call any of the services listed above. If you wish to report a sexual assault, call the university police at 973-655-5222 or go online to montclair.edu/sexual-volience and fill out a Title IX report/complaint.