Three Billboards Outside Montclair, New Jersey

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Published December 4, 2019
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The Montclarion
Alexis Kitchmire | The Montclarion

The Oscar winning film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” had a symbol so potent you could not look away. “How come, Chief Willoughby,” one of the billboards asked. This film centers around one mother’s fury towards her local law enforcement’s inability to solve her daughter’s rape and murder case.

The film inspired real-life examples of rural and suburban activists to call out the system that is supposed to protect them and encourage them to modernize to protect the people they serve.

It is beyond necessary for the student body as a whole to have the Jeanne Clery report information at their disposal, in addition to details that could identify assailants and increase public awareness.

After the Clery Act of 1990 was passed in the wake of the gruesome homicide of 19-year-old Jeanne Clery in 1986, public universities such as Montclair State University are required by law to disclose on-campus crime reports every year.

According to the 2018-2019 report, there were nine reported sexual assaults on campus. The process as to how they are handled is unknown.

While writing this article, an incident of sexual harassment occurred on campus on Nov. 15 when a male student touched another student inappropriately. Fortunately, there has been an arrest, but we do not know what will happen to the perpetrator.

Students on campus received an email detailing the incident and its aftermath, but it is unknown whether or not the perpetrator will be publicly identified.

In the process of my reporting, there were some snags in attempting to contact key individuals. Attempts to contact the Montclair State police department via email was forwarded to the Office of Title IX.

Yolanda Alvarez, Deputy Title IX coordinator, responded to an email.

When asked about whether or not the cases would be handled by authorities outside of campus (on the state, national and federal level), Alvarez said that students who report have the option to report to the university police department or a university Title IX representative. They also have the option to report to a confidential resource to discuss options.

Even with these options, there needs to be a clear and cohesive way to inform students on campus how the school will handle these laws, ordinance texts and campuswide emails. We should have a process that ensures safety and security in both writing and enforcement. Supposedly one can file a complaint, go to the university police office or call 911, but we do not completely know this process.

In the wake of movies like “Three Billboards” and “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary on college sexual assaults, universities and other public institutions need to be more transparent on how a claim is handled.

Even if they file a report, there is no clear determination on whether or not the accused will still be considered a student.

Montclair State should not have three billboards asking about how it deals with sexual assaults. It should be transparent, cohesive and clearly defined for everyone.

For information about the 2018-2019 Montclair State University Crime Report and sexual assault on campus, please click on the highlighted links.

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