Quinnipiac's response to sexual assault news
By Jenelle Cadigan
After Harvey Weinstein, the 65-year-old American film producer and former film studio executive who allegedly sexually assaulted and raped multiple women, was fired, victims all over the world came forward with their stories.
Alyssa Milano, an American actress, activist, producer and former singer, started a trending hashtag that went international: #metoo.
Although not many Quinnipiac students opened up about their stories, they did react to the news and the resources available on campus.
Quinnipiac University provides multiple resources for victims of sexual assault and rape.
Confidential resources on campus include health services, counseling services and clergy. Any information shared with people in these departments is not required to be reported.
There are also “responsible employees” on campus - also known as mandated reporters - who are required to report incidents of sexual violence, harassment or discrimination to the university Title IX coordinator immediately. People in this category include all faculty, administration, athletic, human resources, public safety, student affairs and student paraprofessionals (resident assistants and orientation leaders while they are still under contract).
According to the student handbook, “prompt reporting of such incidents makes investigation of the incident more effective and enhances the ability of the university to take action on a complaint.”
Quinnipiac’s Title IX coordinator is Terri Johnson. The Deputy Title IX coordinator for incidents involving faculty, staff and vendors is Stephanie Mathews, and the Deputy Title IX coordinator for incidents involving students, visitors and persons who are not affiliated with Quinnipiac is Seann Kalagher.
If a victim wants to open up a Title IX investigation, they can choose to end the investigation at any point. The coordinators will only share information on a need-to-know basis throughout the investigation, but it’s important to note that these investigations can sometimes take a very long time - weeks or even months.
If a victim chooses to go to the health center, they can be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia and given medication for both. The health center also provides plan-B medication. The health center will go over the options with the victim, should he or she want to report it to the Title IX coordinators or to the police, or go to the hospital.
The hospital can provide a few things that the health center can not– a rape kit, HIV testing and HIV post-exposure prophylaxis, which is medication taken so that the infection does not develop.
Christy Chase, director of student health services at Quinnipiac, is one of three sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) that works in the health center. SANE nurses are registered nurses who have completed specialized courses related to medical forensic care of sexually assaulted or abused patients. She says the Title IX coordinators and police officers have a job to get information out of the victim as soon as possible, but she tries to shelter them from that.
“We’re very protective of the student in that moment,” Chase says. “Our first priority is finding out medically if this person is okay. That’s gotta be the first thing.”
Since the situation can be overwhelming, Chase tries to protect the privacy of the victims as much as possible.
“I don’t want it to become a circus with students and staff,” she says. “We need to keep the perimeter, and when I was on nightside I would almost throw people out of the waiting room.”
Chase says many students choose not to go to the health center because of the misconception that it will immediately start an investigation.
When it comes to sexual assault, investigations are only started when a victim goes to a non-confidential resource, and parents are only contacted by the health center if a student is transported to a medical facility by ambulance. But, health services does not have to say why the student was transported by ambulance.
Chase used to work in an emergency room as a sexual abuse examiner. She stresses the importance of getting a rape kit done, saying it’s vital to collect the evidence right now even if one doesn't want to press any charges. If a person is to change their mind in the future, the hospital will be holding onto the kit.
The #metoo movement has empowered many victims to come forward, but Chase says if anyone feels triggered by the posts, confidential counseling services are a great resource as well.
“I don’t want there to be barriers for students to not come in and get the help that they need,” Chase says. “We don’t want them to be afraid.”