As of recent, speculation has been tossed left and right as to if Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. From watching both of their testimonies and awaiting the FBI trial results, one starts to wonder if this kind of behavior may be lurking at Montclair State University and what the university is doing in order to prevent sexual assault.
According to Montclair State’s Jeanne Clery statistics, which are emailed to every student, there were 11 sex crimes reported in the total of 2017. When splitting the statistics apart, there were nine reported rapes that were committed, eight of them taking place in residence halls on campus. On top of that, there were two reported fondling crimes committed. It was not specified whether the fondling crimes were committed on public property, off campus or in a residence hall.
The statistics make one wonder, can something happen when you are walking back to your dorm or car at night? Will this happen while you are walking in daylight while you are grabbing food from Sam’s Place? The truth is, no one knows and that is frightening to everyone.
Montclair State may also have higher rates of reports compared to other universities, not because of lack of safety but because students feel more comfortable coming forward with sexual assault on this campus versus other campuses that may be bigger with different cultures and environments.
Students from campuses around the country express their frustration in others not recognizing rape culture:
sexual assault is a serious issue. 90% of the girls on campus walk around with pepper spray on their keychain. LETTING MEN GET AWAY WITH RAPE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT IS NOT BY ANY STANDARDS OKAY
— Gigi Gama (@GigiGama1) October 2, 2018
When I was a first year at Yale, I heard a boy telling his friend that he was rushing Yale DKE because "he liked being in spaces where the lines between consent and rape were fuzzy." We had only been on campus for mere months. He simply knew what he wanted and where to find it.
— Anya Markowitz (@AwkwardIrony) September 27, 2018
I know 2 people who were falsely accused of sexual assault/ rape but I know almost triple that in the amount of people who I know have experienced sexual assault/rape personally or men who accused and confirmed as a rapist or committed sexual assault yet be chilling on campus
— Justice (@JDaQue2) October 1, 2018
When falling upon Montclair State’s mission statement on sexual assault, the university acknowledges that sexual assault does happen on college campuses and that most instances go unreported. The university included themselves as one of the universities that have unreported sexual assault crimes. Seeing the statement was not only a shocker, but also comforting in a weird way. We all know what college culture is like, and we cannot deny that instances for sexual assault do happen most often on any college campus. The acknowledgment can make students feel safer, knowing that the university recognizes the behavior that happens on campuses all around the country.
Montclair State also has a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), which includes members from the University Police Department (UPD), the University Health Center with forensic nurses, and campus interpersonal violence advocates who are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a student, knowing that there is a response team provides some sort of contentment. If a student is in trouble, they have someone to turn toward.
In addition, SART has an excerpt on their website of what to do if you or someone you know has experienced or witnessed sexual assault. In the very first sentence, the university urges students to contact the UPD.
Following the statement, the university states, “Contacting Montclair State University SART does not mean someone has to be charged with a crime.”
This statement becomes crucial because some victims do not want to face their rapist or the person that sexually attacked them due to being traumatized mentally, emotionally and physically. For Montclair State to notice that and take that into account makes one feel that they understand the victim’s perspective as well.
When speaking with Barbara Ackerson, a registered nurse board certified and forensic nurse certified sexual assault, at the University Health Center, she spoke of wanting to further the education of sexual assault to students. Ackerson makes an effort to go to freshmen seminars and educate the peer leaders in the health center. She says a lot of victims are still weary of coming forward, but with the media coming out with women revealing their sexual assault history, she hopes more students feel comfortable opening up about it.
Montclair State also lists several organizations on and off campus for those that have been victims of sexual assault. The on-campus resources range from the UPD, the University Health Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, the LGBTQ+ Center, the Dean of Students and Residence Life. The off-campus resources include Essex County Rape Care Center, Passaic County Rape Crisis Services and Rape Crisis Hotline.
As a whole, Montclair State and SART have created an established program to tackle the sexual assault problems campuses face. It is comforting knowing that Montclair State recognizes the issues of college campuses and takes measures to effectively support victims.