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Chemeketa’s stance on sexual misconduct is zero tolerance

By Ian Gerig

Three in four women will attend college after high school.

One out of five of those college women will be a victim of sexual assault while attending college.

Numbers like these are the reason why Chemeketa holds its students to a zero tolerance policy toward “sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.”

“I’m glad that the school is concerned about us,” Tatiana Ortega, a first-year transfer student, said. “It’s something that I think everyone worries about sometimes.”

While college officials are proud of this policy, they are equally thankful that it does not need to be used often.

“We’re fortunate we’re a commuter campus, so we don’t have as much of an issue here as some places do,” Bill Kohlmeyer, Chemeketa’s director of Public Safety, said.

“Most of these kinds of cases occur in dorms. And because we don’t have any dorms, these cases just don’t happen very much here.”

Of the 569 incidents that were reported to Public Safety in 2013, 13 were related to harassment, a fact that reassures, but doesn’t surprise, Chemeketa students.

“I was never particularly worried about coming here,” Emily Pelletier, a second-year transfer student, said.

“And I’ve never really felt concerned or threatened on campus.”

Kohlmeyer believes that much of this security comes as a result of Chemeketa’s stance on sexual crimes.

“We have absolute zero tolerance here,” he said, “If we had a complaint about sexual harassment and it occurred again, the person is gone.”

“Sometimes we just need to talk to an individual, but we just don’t tolerate it here. We’re very serious about this.”

Unfortunately, many victims are too embarrassed or scared to come forward, and so many incidents are never reported.

“It’s never easy to come forward,” Alice Sprague, the college’s director of Human Resources and Title XI coordinator, said. “But it is our intent to make individuals feel comfortable and to provide a safe environment for that conversation.”

Sprague and Manuel Guerra, Chemeketa’s other Title XI coordinator, said they are always willing to talk with students who believe that they were harassed or assaulted.

“Get help. Report it. Don’t be afraid or ashamed,” Sprague said. “Sexual harassment can happen to anyone, and no form of sexual assault or harassment is tolerated at our institution.”

While Chemeketa is in the process of revising many school policies, Rebecca Hillyer, Chemeketa’s director of legal resources, assures students that Chemeketa’s policy regarding these crimes will always be zero tolerance.

“It’s absolutely going to be zero tolerance,” she said. “If any student or employee feels they are a victim of any kind of harassment or sexual violence they should contact the college, we’ll do everything in our power to help them.”

“Students can help too, you don’t have to be superman, just keep an eye out on what’s going on and watch your surroundings. If you see something, report it.”

Students who need immediate assistance or would like to report an incident are asked to contact Chemeketa’s Public Safety Department at 503-399-5023.

Kohlmeyer wishes to remind students that sexual harassment does not have a set definition, and that public safety is always there for Chemeketa’s students.

“From catcalling to offensive touching, there’s a broad range of what harassment can be. You can call public safety anytime you feel uncomfortable,” he said.

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