By Christie Wisniewski and Maya Douglas
According to the Hood College 2017 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, instances of rape and dating violence on campus increased in 2016. The report defines a forcible sexual offense as “any sexual act directed against another person…against that person’s will; or not forcibly…where the victim is incapable of giving consent.”
The recent report was released to students by email on September 29, and is required by federal law to be published and viewable by all students. Not only does the report track the number of criminal offenses reported on campus, it also tracks the number of fires, liquor and drug law violations, and illegal weapon possession on campus.
There were four forcible sexual assaults reported on campus and one involving Hood students on public property in 2016, the report states. The report also shows that there were four instances of dating violence on campus the same year. In 2015, the report states that there were three forcible sexual assault offenses and one on public property, and two instances of dating violence on campus.
This September, Hood was awarded a $300,000 grant from the Department of Justice Office of Violence against Women on Campus. The college plans to use the funds to supplement ongoing efforts to prevent sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking on campus.
“We looked at what the needs are on campus in terms of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking and how we could improve,” said Jaime Cacciola, director of Grants and Gift Planning.
Cacciola worked in conjunction with Dean of Students Olivia White to write the grant- a three-month long process.
The grant will be dispersed over three years and will undergo evaluation to gauge success, the first phase of the project being to hire on a Campus Awareness Response Education (CARE) director. This person will work closely with the Dean and under the Student Life division to advise students on sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking related situations, coordinate contact with Hood’s Community Coordinated Response (CCR) team to provide resources for students, as well as train staff and students to deal with these situations.
The CARE director is expected to be hired by January.
The CCR team consists of Frederick City Police, The Frederick Center, a nonprofit specializing in LGBT support; Heartly House, and the Maryland Coalition for Sexual Assault. These organizations will serve as community partners of Hood’s CARE initiative.
This grant will serve as supplementary to ongoing sexual assault and domestic violence prevention training including the required One Love seminar for incoming freshman and monitoring students in the “red zone,” a student’s first year of college. Students are also urged
to report instances to Campus Safety and take advantage of the services offered in the Wellness Center.
“If a situation like this [sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking] will happen, most time it’ll happen in that red zone where students are still adjusting to a new place,” said Cacciola.
“We’re really thrilled to have to have opportunity to address these needs, I think Hood College absolutely wants make sure they’re doing their due diligence to make sure that domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking doesn’t happen on campus,” she said.
In 2016, there was one report of a student on campus intimidating another based on their race, according to the statistics. In the previous two years, the report had no instances of crime based on a person’s race, gender, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, or disability.
There were 65 liquor law violations and 25 drug law violations on campus in 2016, according to the report’s “2016 Arrests and Judicial Referrals” category.
The report offers multiple general safety precautions for students in order to lessen campus crime. These precautions include:
· “Never admit strangers into your room or hall.”
· Never remain alone in isolated or unoccupied areas, including classrooms, libraries, or other buildings. When such use is required, special arrangements must be made with the Department of Campus Safety.”
· “When walking at night, have a friend(s) along and carry a cell phone.”
Students are encouraged to keep the numbers of emergency personnel at hand:
· Frederick County Mental Health Resources: 211
· Heartly House 24-hour hotline: 301-662-8800
· City of Frederick Police: 301-600-2100/ non-emergency direct line: 301-600-2102
· Frederick County Sheriff’s Office: 301-600-1046
· Frederick Memorial Hospital General Info: 240-566-3300