Update: Students Seek Answers About Assault
BY KEVIN DIFFILY // JAN. 30, 2013 //
[UPDATE, 4:24 p.m.: This story has been updated with comments from Curry Director of Communications Fran Jackson.]
Three men were arraigned Monday on charges of sexually assaulting a Curry student on campus Jan. 20, yet the college’s administration has remained largely silent about the incident.
Maryellen Kiley, dean of students at Curry, said she was unable to comment because of the ongoing investigation. But Kiley also declined to comment on whether the college is examining any of its internal policies or procedures, such as residence hall guest policies, student education about sexual assaults, or social events on campus.
Curry Director of Communications Fran Jackson later sought to clarify. “The administration is…reviewing our guest and special event policies in light of the recent incident,” she wrote in an email to the Currier Times. “We seek to strike a balance between allowing our students the independence and flexibility to have social relationships with both students and non-students, and creating a safe environment. Our reviews will look to see if more needs to be done with regards to education and enforcement around existing policies or if new policies need to be employed.”
None of the three men charged were Curry students, although two of them formerly attended the college. According to a Jan. 28 email from Kiley that alerted the campus about the assault, the victim reportedly knew two of the men. There was a large student dance on campus Saturday night, Jan. 19.
According to a 10-year study of rapes and sexual assaults on Massachusetts colleges and universities, the victim knows her assailant—as an acquaintance, friend or date—70 percent of the time. In addition, a majority of sexual assaults occur between midnight and 4 a.m. on weekends.
Citing a mix of coed living quarters and the prevalence of alcohol and drugs on college campuses, the study also found that “women attending institutions of higher education are more susceptible to sexual victimization than their un-enrolled counterparts.”
Although the assault took place early in the morning Sunday, Jan. 20, the victim did not file a report with Curry Public Safety and Milton Police until Tuesday, Jan. 22. The Curry administration did not issue a statement informing the community of the incident until six days later, when the men were arraigned.
Junior graphic design major Austen Samolchuk believes the college should have alerted students much sooner.
“The fact that it took them six days to respond is a little concerning,” said Samolchuk. “The email that was sent out says they’re always here for us, so you have to wonder why it took so long to inform the community.”
Sophomore psychology major Kayla Carpenter had similar concerns about the notification.
“I think it’s unfair to the students here to [withhold information] that severe and alarming,” she said. “I think that we should have been notified sooner that there was an incident.”
According to Jackson: “Our past policy has been to notify the full campus in situations where the assailant was unknown and/or when law enforcement officials believe there is an immediate danger or threat to community members. Those are the incidents that are most likely to be a security risk to the entire campus and we make every effort to alert the student body as quickly as possible. We intend to survey other colleges with regards to their practices on informing students about sexual assaults by known assailants to consider whether our current policy/approach should be modified.”
Sophomore communication major Liz Kalaijian said she was actually content with the manner in which the college took action and made the incident public.
“Those things take a while to be sorted out, and I think they went about it well,” said Kalaijian, noting that she feels safe on campus.
Carpenter added that while she, too, is not particularly concerned about campus safety, “It does make me uncomfortable to think people around me could commit a crime like that.”