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Zero Tolerance:

Chemeketa acquires new guidelines for sexual and domestic crime

By Emily Sisk

The beginning of the school year brought some major changes to the Chemeketa campus.

In addition to a new president and construction work on new buildings, Chemeketa introduced a zero tolerance stance on sexual assault and harassment, violence, and stalking.

The policies coincide with a national increase in awareness of assaults and violence regarding women in particular and also come on the heels of sexual assault charges against Patrick Lanning, a former college vice president.

Chemeketa’s new policies were set in motion long before the events surrounding Lanning surfaced.

Rebecca Hillyer, the college’s director of legal services, was instrumental in reworking the school’s protocols.

“This is not a result of current events,” she said. “It’s a result of the Violence Against Women Act.”

The act, originally written in 1994, was reissued by the federal government in 2013 with a portion called the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, or SaVE. It includes new guidelines for all colleges to follow, including training of staff, education for students, and improvements in victim’s rights.

The law takes effect July 1, although colleges and universities are urged to implement their plans as quickly as possible.

The act’s initiation comes at an unnerving time for college students and administrators. The Centers for Disease Control currently estimate that 1 out of 5 of every woman who attends college will experience rape or attempted rape.

Community colleges in general do not have the high occurrence of sexual and violent crimes that other universities and colleges have. There are rarely on-campus housing facilities, and events involving alcohol are prohibited.

Most college assaults involve late-night campus activities, student housing, and alcohol.

Because Chemeketa is a commuter campus with few after-hours events, students here are significantly less likely to be sexually assaulted, according to Bill Kohlmeyer, the college’s director of Public Safety.

“I’ve been here seven years,” he said. “The last time it happened was my first week here.”

The incident in 2007 occurred late at night on the track when a man attempted to sexually assault a woman. Police were quickly involved.

All U.S. colleges and universities were federally mandated to start adopting SaVE by this October. Chemeketa divided the new guidelines into a series of steps to be carried out during the school year.

The first step was student education and awareness. A “Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, and Stalking” brochure was created by Chemeketa officials, including Hillyer and Kohlmeyer.

The brochure provides students with definitions of sexual assault and violence, safety tips, and actions that bystanders can take to help in violent situations.

It also includes information and support for victims.

The back of the brochure lists numbers for victims and bystanders to call in an emergency or to report an incident, as well as contact information for crisis hotlines and support networks.

The next step for Chemeketa will be training for staff and students. Hillyer envisions an online course for students to take that will be comprehensive but that won’t require a lot of time to complete.

In the meantime, Chemeketa staff members also will be changing the actions that they would take in the event of a sexual assault on campus. According to Hillyer, details are being finalized, but the basic framework has been decided.

Both the accused and the accuser would attend a campus disciplinary proceeding. Each would have the opportunity to bring an adviser: a parent, friend, a lawyer, or someone else they trust.

The proceeding’s panel would consist of independent fact-finders, which may include students, staff, and community members such as police officers. Panel members then would examine the evidence and make a decision.

Students found culpable by the panel could face expulsion, with the ability to appeal.

Chemeketa officials are still working on the proper punishment for each crime.

As staff members are taking measures to address sexual and violent crimes, Hillyer encourages Chemeketa students to do the same. She has proposed a public discussion event to the Student Life Office to help with awareness and address student concerns.

Chemeketa students are encouraged to pick up a copy of the new brochure, which is available in both English and Spanish, at the Public Safety office in Bldg. 2 and in front of the staff offices in Bldg. 1.

Additional copies can be found around campus.

Kohlmeyer advises anyone who has witnessed or been the victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking on campus to contact Public Safety at 503-399-5023.

In the event of an emergency, dial 911.

Public Safety can also assist victims of stalking or domestic violence who need accommodations while on campus by working out a custom safety plan, Kohlmeyer said.

Counseling for those affected by sexual or violent crimes is available by contacting Counseling Services at 503-566-2925.

Hillyer sees the new guidelines as a step in the right direction that have been years in the making. She said she hoped that it would bring about a shift in culture throughout the nation’s schools and society at large, especially regarding the treatment of victims.

“You’re not alone. It isn’t your fault,” she said.

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