West Chester University’s updated sexual misconduct policy has been a long time in the making: two years, to be exact.
According to Dr. Adale Sholock, director of the Women’s Center and the Institute for Women, it has been coming for a while. “Two years ago, a group of students went to President Weisenstein and asked him to revise the policy to make sure that our policy really aligns with the best practices across the United States about how to handle sexual misconduct issues on campus,” Dr. Sholock explained. “He thought it was a great idea, so he asked me, as the director of the Women’s Center, to take the lead. We’ve been working for the last two years along with many other people on campus in order to meet the needs of people on campus. It was finally finished in August and approved by president. We are so excited to have it done.”
The revised sexual misconduct policy is considerably more comprehensive. There is an entire section in the new policy dedicated to definitions, including words such as incapacitation, stalking, sexual harassment, and others. Other sections of the policy include medical evidence collection, how and where to report an incident of sexual misconduct, an explanation of WCU’s disciplinary actions, and on- and off-campus resources for students. The policy now addresses both those who have been assaulted, as well as those who have been accused, and it addresses male, LGBT, and minority victims, among others.
The update to the policy in itself is an exciting thing, but this is made even more exciting by a couple of new additions to the policy that students should know about. Medical amnesty will be given to those under the age of 21 who were drinking, which means that the University will not pursue an underage if they report being assaulted or if the person was a bystander.
“Students should not be afraid if they have been drinking; it is most important that they come forward and get help,” Dr. Sholock said.
Another exciting addition to the sexual misconduct policy is free follow-up care at the student health center, which involves STI testing and other post-assault medical care. The final addition to the policy and arguably the best of all is a new online tool that allows people to share information about sexual misconduct that they know about, whether it is regarding them or their friends. This new tool can be accessed 24 hours a day, so now we have an anonymous reporting tool that is available to anyone, not just WCU students. Dr. Sholock explained, “People might not want to report to the police or might be afraid to tell people their name, but we want to hear about it either way so that we can make sure we have the resources on campus to help these victims and prevent it from happening in the future.”
If readers need help in any way, they can visit the Women’s Center, which is on the second floor of Lawrence, and the online sexual misconduct reporting tool can be accessed at wcupa.edu/sexualmisconduct.
Clare Haggerty is a second-year student majoring in English. She be reached at CH757342@wcupa.edu.