On Tuesday, Sept. 14, Auburn University Campus Safety and Security sent the third email in a week about sexual misconduct on campus — the second report of rape.
An organization called Sexual Assault Awareness Club was formed and a protest was organized for Toomer’s Corner that night. Hundreds of people gathered as cars sped by and honked in support. For many, it was an empowering moment, one that was recreated at another protest Thursday night.
Minutes before the protest, Auburn Student Affairs made a post on their Instagram announcing there will be a town hall on Wednesday, Sept. 22, to discuss preventing and reporting sexual assault. If you feel strongly about this, we encourage you to attend.
Express your concerns, and bring demands. If you attend, remember that the problem of sexual assault on campus goes beyond one case. Don’t let one issue cloud others that should be addressed right now.
There are a few things that are helpful to know about reporting sexual violence on campus.
Under the Clery Act, if a crime happens on or near campus, Auburn Safety and Security is required to send a timely warning if they feel there is “a serious or ongoing threat,” even if the incident was disclosed to them by a third party. After that, Campus Safety does not conduct an investigation — if the survivor chooses to press charges or file a formal complaint, that is left to the police or those in Auburn’s Title IX office.
The most recent case was never reported directly to the University by the survivor, and an official police report was never filed — at the request of the survivor — so there is no current investigation.
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There are different paths a student can take when they experience sexual misconduct on campus if they decide to make a report. Many survivors don’t, and we will not speculate about the reasons they may make this decision, and we support them regardless.
They can report directly to the police, who will have to report it to the University eventually, or they can report it to the University by filing a form with a Title IX coordinator.
After a survivor submits a Title IX form, the Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity Office reaches out with resources like Safe Harbor or Student Counseling Services. From there, students can choose to take further action, including filing a formal complaint, after which the office investigates the case and eventually holds a hearing where a hearing officer asks questions to the two parties and reviews the case to make a decision. The Title IX office is not responsible for putting anyone in jail. At the worst, they would tell them to leave the University.
Survivors can also request a no-contact directive rather than file a formal complaint, where the office coordinates communication between the parties involved and tells them not to communicate directly or indirectly. Similarly, there is a tool called an informal agreement, where terms of separation are written for both parties to agree to — such as one party not going to events or places the other frequents.
These tools acknowledge the high likelihood that the survivor knows their attacker, which aligns with data from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network that eight out of ten rapes are committed by someone known to the victim.
As we’ve seen recently, there is fear, and there is anger coming from student voices.
We, too, are scared and angry. Scared for ourselves, our coworkers and our closest friends. Angry because we want to know they are safe.
There is much to be done, and there is much that could be asked of Auburn’s administration right now. Don't let the momentum die.
There are people who have been looking into this issue for years. Seek their guidance, ask them what has been asked of the administration before and what to do with this momentum right now.
Finally, to the administration: Now is the time to be transparent. Many of the students that you are charged with keeping safe no longer feel safe. If you do nothing else, then explain everything.
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