Family Services Advocates and Marist

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — In 2016, there were seven title IX cases at Marist College that were investigated. These reports were either about dating violence or non consensual sexual intercourse.

According to Edward Freer, the deputy title IX coordinator at Marist, there are maybe four title IX cases, so far for 2017, of responding parties (meaning the people or person who is responding to the allegation) violating Marist’s Code of Conduct about sexual misconduct – this includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, intimate partner violence and stalking, according to Marist’s Resource Guide and Information.

This year, Marist College’s title IX office joined with Family Services’ Center for Victim Safety and Support. Although there are many on-campus support services that Marist offers, there are additional resources available through Family Services.

“We just felt it would be something that would be helpful and beneficial to the reporting party,” Freer said, meaning the party that reported the incident.

Through that agreement, when a “person comes in to report sexual assault, sexual misconduct or dating violence,” Freer said, they are given the number of one of the Center’s advocates – and according to Freer, more than half of the people use it. The advocates are “trained to work with victims.” Since this resource has been in place, they’ve mostly had the same advocate come and help the reporting parties.

The advocates are trained to work with victims, both from the local colleges and from the community, to advise them on the process of reporting what happened. Every step of the way, the advocate can be with the student, guiding them.

Most reporting parties decide to keep it to an internal policy level – but according to Freer, that’s common in higher education. Keeping it at the college means there’s a “lesser burden of proof,” Freer said. Sexual misconduct in any form is “not an easy thing to prosecute…[but] it’s much more difficult to prosecute criminally.” Freer also pointed out that if the reporting party takes the case to law enforcement, they will have to go to court and testify, which some victims might not want to do.

Marist does have some of its own resources to help students who have been sexually harassed, assaulted, or the victim of dating violence. “We refer everyone to the counseling center,” Freer said – and they can refer the reporting party to the law enforcement agency to press charges, if they want.

Title IX, safety and security, student affairs, student conduct, health services and residence life are all non confidential resources, according to Marist’s Resource Guide and Information. However, students can request, when talking to counseling services, health services and/or the campus priest, that the details of the report be kept confidential.

Marist also uses the Family Services Center for Victim Safety and Support for training on issues about sexual harassment, sexual assault and dating violence. Additionally, Family Services and Marist have partnered together on multiple sexual misconduct programs in the past, including the Start by Believing campaign. This movement is designed to inform the public on the power of believing someone who has said they’ve been sexually assaulted.

While there’s a pretty even mix of cases involving sexual assault, sexual harassment and dating violence on campus, “every case is different,” Freer said.

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