There are many additional resources available to you outside of the campus community that are free and confidential. The Rape, Assault, and Incest National Network (RAINN), and the Sexual Offense Services and Sexual Violence Center all provide 24-hour crisis hotlines. In addition, these organizations offer general information about sexual assault at no cost. For a more complete listing of local resources, visit http://www.mncasa.org/seek.cfm
The University strives to create an environment that is free from sexual assault. The University provides education and outreach by informing the community of its sexual violence policy and providing ongoing programming, education and support through the Dean of Students Office, New Student Orientation, the Wellness Center, Residence Life, Public Safety, Luann Dummer Center for Women, and many other departments. In the past year a Sexual Violence Programming Committee was initiated to assess the climate around sexual violence and provide programming and education to the campus community. Additionally, the University takes concerns of sexual assault very seriously and does not tolerate actions that go against the University’s commitment in creating a safe environment for the St. Thomas community. Further, the University encourages its members to be proactive in informing any concerns or instances of sexual assault.
Support services from Counseling and Psychological Services and Health Services are available to students at any time, regardless of when the incident took place. Students that bring an incident to the Dean of Students Office after one year and wish to go through the St. Thomas Resolution Process will be handled on a case-by-case basis. However, if the identity of the perpetrator was unknown, then the complainant has one year from the time the identity was known to initiate an investigation.
The University handles each incident on a case-by-case basis and does not define jurisdiction in general terms. Jurisdiction will be determined by the specifics of each individual case.
I would like to report an assault to the police. How much support will the University provide? How much can Public Safety be involved?
All of the usual campus support services are available to you as are working with the police. Resources and support are available from many offices, including the Dean of Students Office, Counseling and Psychological Services, and Health Services. In addition, if you would like University assistance throughout the process of filing with the police, Public Safety and/or the Dean of Students Office are ready and willing to provide support. Some examples of support that Public Safety can provide in such situations include assistance in conducting an investigation, collecting evidence, providing support throughout interviewing, offering referrals and additional resources, etc. Based upon your wishes, the University is willing to be involved to the extent possible.
If I report an assault at St. Thomas, who will find out about it? Will my name be used? Does this affect my record?
Appropriate University officials, such as the Process Coordinator, Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs, will be informed of incidents of sexual assault. This does not mean, however, that all of these officials will necessarily know the identity of those involved with the report. Your identity will never be shared publicly with the St. Thomas community. And, reporting an assault will not affect your academic or disciplinary record.
The line between sexual misconduct and sexual violence is difficult to define. The basic difference between the two is intent to commit the assault. Sexual violence is committed with the intent of harming another person or satisfying one’s own impulses. Sexual misconduct is an incident in which the perpetrator failed to correctly gain consent and assess the situation, but did not intend to cause harm.
The formal definitions as outlined in the St. Thomas Sexual Violence Policy are found below:
As outlined in St. Thomas Sexual Violence Policy, “sexual violence is defined as any act of violence or force committed without the complainant’s consent, for the purpose of satisfying the actor’s sexual or aggressive impulses, including but not limited to contact of a person or a person’s clothing in the genital, groin, inner thigh, buttocks, or breast areas, or the use of threat of force or coercion which requires the victim to commit or submit to any kind of attempted sexual act. This includes a physical act that is sexual in nature, is intentional, and is committed either by:
- physical force, violence, threat or intimidation;
- ignoring the objections of another person;
- causing another’s intoxication or impairment through the use of drugs or alcohol in order to take advantage of another person; or
- taking advantage of another person’s incapacitation, state of intimidation, helplessness, or other inability to consent.”
Sexual misconduct is just one of the many types of sexual violence. The St. Thomas Sexual Violence Policy states, “the University recognizes there may be occasions when a sexual act or sexual acts are committed without the intent to harm another but where, by failing to correctly assess the circumstances, a person believes unreasonably that effective consent was given without having met his/her responsibility to gain effective consent. This may be considered sexual misconduct.”
Yes. Filing a report or contacting University officials is an opportunity for you to gain assistance in dealing with the assault. In addition, Counseling and Psychological Services and Health Services can offer confidential support regardless of where the assault took place.
Yes. Under Minnesota State Law a perpetrator of sexual violence is still responsible, despite being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The University also follows this law, and just as with other disciplinary cases, does not consider drugs or alcohol an excuse for unacceptable behavior.
Accused students have the same support services offered to them as students initiating the complaint. The Dean of Students Office can assist you in understanding the St. Thomas Resolution Process and help you assess the situation and determine what the best course of action may be. Confidential support is available at Counseling and Psychological Services and Health Services.
If an assault begins affecting your academic work you may choose to gain assistance from Academic Counseling. You or the Dean of Students Office can contact an academic counselor to get assistance with managing your coursework, and if appropriate, contacting professors. If you or the Dean of Students Office contact Academic Counseling, confidentiality of the matter will be maintained by generalizing the incident as a major life event or something of the sort.
If you have been accused of assaulting someone, you have the right to a fair investigation. In addition, you have the opportunity to tell your side of the story and provide witnesses in the event of a formal investigation. For more information on your rights and your next steps, contact the University Ombudsperson or the Dean of Students Office.
What services does St. Thomas Health Services provide with regard to sexual assault? Can I get a pregnancy/STD/HIV test? How much does it cost?
Health Services offers free pregnancy testing, sexually transmitted disease (including HIV) testing and gynecology exams at no cost for enrolled St. Thomas students. Individuals who come to Health Services recently after an assault has occurred, however, will be referred to an area hospital with specialties in dealing with sexual assault victims. Additionally, prescriptions for any treatment can be prescribed by Health Services, but the student is responsible for those additional costs.
I was assaulted on campus while I was a guest of the University. Am I covered by the St. Thomas policy? What support can I get?
Incidents involving guests of the University are handled on a case-by-case basis. If you were assaulted while you were a guest of the University, contact Public Safety or the Dean of Students Office for assistance in dealing with this matter.
The policy says that “the University cannot guarantee complete confidentiality where it would conflict with the University’s obligation to meaningfully investigate or, where warranted, take corrective action.” What does this mean?
In a case where the University perceives a danger or threat to the University community, it has an obligation to take appropriate action to ensure the safety of the St. Thomas community. The University will maintain confidentiality to the extent possible in such cases.
There is no charge for going through the St. Thomas Resolution Process of the sexual violence policy. In addition, support services offered by Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Dean of Students Office, and others are all free to St. Thomas students.
What resources on campus are completely confidential that won’t result in a report, but are just for support?
For complete confidential support, the staff members of Counseling and Psychological Services and the Health Services are ready to assist you. Counseling and Psychological Services provides free individual or group counseling sessions with professional staff members as well as many resources including self-help and assistance in crisis or emergencies. Health Services offers pregnancy testing, sexually transmitted disease testing and gynecology exams for enrolled St. Thomas students. Both offices also are able to offer a number of resources and referrals for your specific needs.
Students have several options in dealing with an assault:
- Formal process: pursue a formal complaint and investigation through the University
- Informal assistance: discuss with Process Coordinator to outline options of which could simply be an informal discussion with the respondent (in the presence of a third party) or protective action from the University
- Confidential support: visit Counseling and Psychological Services and/or Health Services
- Anonymous report: report an assault anonymously with Public Safety for statistical purposes
- Area police: may simply inform of incident or file charges
Should a student choose to get informal assistance through the University, the student will have an informal discussion with a Process Coordinator. The main purpose of the discussion is to review all of the options available to the student, including but not limited to an informal discussion with the respondent in the presence of a third party. Along with other investigative information, an informal discussion may also be the basis for protective action from the University.
A formal discipline sanction for the accused student cannot result from an informal discussion; however, the complainant may end the informal process and begin the formal process at any time.
I am underage and was drinking at the time of the assault. Will I get in trouble for drinking if I choose to report?
Though underage drinking is not condoned by the University, the University also does not want sexual assaults to go unreported because victims are afraid of getting in trouble for their behavior at the time of the assault. For this reason, the University has developed a Good Samaritan Statement, stating “be assured that the responsibility you demonstrate by taking appropriate action for the safety and well-being of another person [or yourself] will be considered in determining which actions, if any, are taken on subsequent review of the matter by the Dean of Students office.” In other words, the responsibility you take in choosing to report sexual assault outweighs other actions; thus, your behavior at the time of the incident is only secondary to the matter and will be reviewed with this consideration in mind.
If you are interested in learning more about sexual assault, the Wellness Center, Health Services, and Counseling and Psychological Services have many resources available to you. In addition, you can navigate the St. Thomas sexual assault Web site, which offers information on a variety of issues focused around sexual assault. For more information outside of St. Thomas, visit http://www.mncasa.org/seek.cfm for numerous resources in Minnesota.
There are many St. Thomas resources available to you regarding issues of domestic violence. The Dean of Students Office can aid with protective issues and ensuring safety and security by providing help with gaining a restraining order or going through the judicial process. Counseling and Psychological Services also offers confidential support in individual sessions with professional staff members. The Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse ( www.mincava.umn.edu) provides additional off-campus local resources.
The most important thing you can do is listen and offer support to your friend. Don’t feel like you need to have all the answers or need to know how to solve everything. Your friend, first and foremost, is looking for someone who is willing to listen and believe them without blaming or passing judgment. Also, it is important for you to know what your own limits are in supporting your friend. Know resources on and off campus to which you can refer your friend.
It is important that you are also taking care of yourself. The Dean of Students Office and Counseling and Psychological Services are both excellent resources for talking through the situation, understanding how you can best help your friend, and dealing with the many emotions you may be experiencing.
For extensive information on helping a friend who has been assaulted, visit the Sexual Violence Web site.