On a college campus one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). On ECU’s campus in 2018 there were 14 rapes on-campus and 14 off-campus, according to the annual security report.
While a college campus is a bustling place during the day there are people who have night classes as well and this is when most forms of sexual assault occur. East Carolina University defines sexual assault as the penetration no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by any sex organ (penis, vagina, anus) of another person, without their consent.
Freshman Johanna Athey, a psychology major, said she makes sure to never walk alone and always carry her pepper spray. She said she keeps the pepper spray on her keychain for easy access if something were to happen.
“Pay attention to your surroundings and don’t look down while walking predators want an easy target, someone that won’t see them coming if they’re walking alone not paying attention. While it is tempting to look at a text or skip a song it is in that second something could happen,” Athey said.
If something were to happen whether it is sexual assault, offensive touching or rape, there are several resources on campus that can help. Title IX compliance officer for the Office for Equity and Diversity (OED), Malorie Yeaman, said the role of its office is to administer the university’s notice of nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy as well on sexual and gender based harassment and interpersonal violence.
“They (the victim) can always speak confidentially with either the counseling center or student health services those are the two confidential reporting (or assistance) options on campus and if they would like to share information those resources will be able to help them navigate what their options are for the next steps,” Yeaman said.
She said the OED’s responsibility is to investigate and look for that evidence. Each case looks different and is treated differently in how they go about asking questions and gathering evidence. She said she would really like people to feel comfortable coming forward and to also let them know that they can bring someone for support and they encourage it even if it’s an attorney.
Senior Equal Opportunity Complaint Investigator for OED Susan Martin said she always recommends the live safe app because with the touch of a button you can have the police or resources right there. The app can be used anywhere on campus and in Greenville as well.
“There is no time limit on reporting so it allows people to come forward whenever they’re ready,” Martin said.
When someone is ready resources will be made available to help so the process can be done as smoothly as possible. However, there are challenges presented with this like if it is reported many years later people are often gone, memories fade so it is challenging but they can report whenever they're ready Martin said.
If there is lack of evidence or you believe there is help is still available. Martin said they have a burden of proof and it is preponderance, which some describe as 50% and a feather whichever tips the scale. Word on word accounts is difficult because there are only two people in the room those are challenging she said, but it is helpful if there are text messages afterwards or talking to people so there are witnesses.
Remember consent is voluntary and active not passive. It is explicit approval and permission to engage in sexual activity demonstrated by clear actions and mutually understood by all parties. If you’re ready to report any sexual misconduct there is a complaint and concern form on the OED site where students can be report anonymously or with your name.