This paper analyzes the sexual misconduct policy at Augusta University by explaining its protocol when it comes to students who become alleged victims of sexual harassment. The review specifically looks at the pros and cons of this policy and seeks to point out anything that may need improvement as well as compare and contrast the policy to other universities' policies in and out of state. Domestic and Dating violence is explained in the policy to help students understand the differences between the two. It also gives anonymous reporters an opportunity to help someone else who they think may be in a difficult situation while also expressing the consequences of false reporting. After analyzing the policy, recommendations have been stated in an effort to help Augusta University improve its policy for the sake of the (University, 2017) schools’ safety and the students that attend the college for their education.
Augusta University along with other universities and colleges has an online sexual misconduct policy or either it is handed out to students who attend the school during their freshman year. Augusta University policy specifically states that “in order to reduce all incidents of sexual misconduct, University System of Georgia institutions are required to provide prevention tools and to conduct ongoing awareness and prevention programming and training for the campus community”.
Augusta University's sexual misconduct policy is publicly open to anyone in or outside the school. You may access the policy through the University’s homepage or call the campus for directions as to how to access the policy. Considering that the policy is open publicly, most students are unaware of the policy and what it states. This is caused by the lack of engagement used on this particular topic. While Augusta University helps to engage students in extracurricular activities and other education programs, there is no specific program for those who suffer sexual harassment or feel that they may know someone who is experiencing those types of issues. Events associated with this topic are only brought around once a year when it should be brought around each term (spring, fall, summer). Studies show that students will react more positively to this topic and will be well aware of the school policies if more activities were created to engage the topic.
Background and Context
Augusta University policy was put in place to protect students and staff and to also provide hope for those who are scared to come forward. In 2017, several incidents occurred on the Augusta University campus. Students were sexually harassed on-campus parking lots while leaving class or sexually harassed in campus buildings or dorms. Students were able to use the University’s hotline for reporting emergencies and were given the support needed to help calm them. If students were not able to identify their attacker by name, an email was sent to students in an effort to receive help from those who might be able to identify the suspect. If anyone feels the need to report an act of sexual misconduct; an anonymous report may be called in. However, it will be hard for the institution to investigate and take action. False complaints are prohibited and can result in serious consequences.
The policy also encourages students, faculty, and staff who experience these types of incidents to report them immediately so that the issue may be handled and resolved as quickly as possible as well as taking the proper precautions. There are two types of violence discussed in the policy, domestic and dating violence. The difference between these two types of violence is marital status. In order words, dating violence can happen to alleged victims who are currently in a non-marital relationship. Domestic violence can happen to alleged victims who are currently in a marital relationship. Information on dating and domestic violence can be found in other university policies in Georgia and out-of-state Universities such as Clemson University. The difference between our state college policies and in-state policies is that in-state policies have more information than out of state as well as the same information throughout all college policies in the state. In addition, Augusta University does not have a separate faculty policy from out-of-state colleges do. This could prove more beneficial to everyone on and off campus.
According to studies done by researchers, it is said that although a campus may post its policy online for easy access, if no there is no engagement to support the policy, then the policy has little effect. In other words, Augusta University has many extracurricular activities going on for different events but there are not many social events regarding sexual misconduct or sexual harassment. If there are events held on this particular topic, this will have a positive effect on all students, especially female students. This could potentially bring forward victims who are afraid to step up because they fill that justice may not be done for them. Events that support this topic will also decrease the number of cases per year dealing with sexual misconduct as well as build strength for those who feel they are too weak to defend themselves.
After reading this policy carefully, there are two recommendations that should be considered in improving this policy. Augusta University should have a separate policy for faculty and staff. Although faculty and staff are mentioned in the policy, it gives them little direction as to what they are supposed to do when they come across similar situations. Activities and events will bring more positivity to those who may be interested in learning more about sexual misconduct. According to Laurie Graham’s article, “Sexual Assault Policies and Consent Definitions: a Nationally Representative Investigation of U.S. Colleges and Universities,
This will bring forward encouragement and strength among women who are in situations regarding sexual harassment. The more students are aware of this policy, the more positive feedback there is among students and the easier it gets to get their attention when it comes to this matter. This will also reduce the sexual harassment rate that has been gradually increasing over the past five years.
All students at Augusta University will find that the sexual misconduct policy is available online at all times as well as emergency numbers if needed. They will also find in the policy that necessary investigations will always take place whether the incident is reported anonymously or reported upfront. Although the policy is accessible, students may find it more suitable to be able to join in events that recognize this issue and will want to make a difference in someone’s life. Women will find it even more supportive considering that studies show that men are most likely to sexually harass women the women are to sexually harass men. Together these changes will make it a better and safer place to get an education as well enjoying your college experiences with other students.
- Laurie M. Graham (2017) Sexual Assault Policies and Consent Definitions: A Nationally Representative Investigation of U.S. Colleges and Universities.
- Retrieved from: www.tanfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080%2F15388220.2017.1318572 https://www.augusta.edu/student-life/conduct/documents/sexual-misconduct-sept-17.pdf