Last semester, a good friend of mine confided in me that they had been sexually assaulted by a faculty member at CSU. Together, we attempted to use all the resources provided by us from CSU to bring the issue to a head and take action. Imagine our surprise when the school told them that they were unable to file a formal complaint because the time limit had run out, and the only thing that they could do was talk to the person and tell them that they are keeping an eye on them.
When one researches the sexual harassment policy at CSU, it is unclear which policy a student is supposed to follow when complaining about a faculty member. According to the Office of Equal Opportunity, victims have 180 days to report an incident. However when looking under Student Sexual Harassment and Violence Policy, it is not stated that the victim has a deadline on the complaint; rather, it is handled in a criminal investigation.
CSU desperately needs to reevaluate their sexual harassment and violence policy in order to protect everyone under the same policy. Furthermore, it should eliminate the time limit on complaints.
Aside from having contradictory policies on campus, CSU is declining to abide by state law which cites the Statute of Limitation in Colorado is up to 10 years, meaning that a victim can come forward with allegations for 10 years after the alleged action.
Under the Student Policy, yes it is handled by the police, but it is by the campus police which handles situations with accordance with campus policy. The tone also suggests in the student policy that one must come forward immediately with the information. This is highly unrealistic considering that most victims of sexual harassment and violence do not get the treated with respect.
Which is why if CSU followed state law and/or repealed the 180 day limitation, and allowed for open reporting, it would not only help the victims, but the school as well.
No one likes to get sued. With CSU’s current policy they are opening the doors to let that happen. All it takes is one student to come forward with an allegation, be told that they cannot report it due to their time running out, and to have that student then take it to the Fort Collins police, which, under state law, they are allowed to do. This, in turn, would make the school look like they were not protecting the student’s safety, which can be battled in a courtroom.
Of course the school would do what it could to avoid such an embarrassment by trying to settle out of court with promised sums of money, free tuition, etc. But once again, this is ignoring the emotional and mental strain of the victim, and is making them feel more like a statistic than a victim of something horrendous.
For the student, a policy which doesn’t come with a time limit allows for the student to come forward on their own terms. The recovery process is a long journey for those who are victims of sexual crimes, and to attempt to start the therapeutic process while going through an immediate investigation is unbearable.
The victim needs time to process the situation, process their emotional and mental well being, and then if they feel comfortable stepping forward, then they can. If the student is rushed, so are their thoughts, and that could lead to a messy investigation. This could result with someone possibly getting away with something because the victim was not coherent enough to provide a convincing recount.
Policies that have the school’s interest at heart rather than the victim’s is never going to be helpful to anyone. The holes in the policies will only grow bigger, and it will only be a matter of time before someone takes issue with a 14 year old policy. Perhaps it would be beneficial to model ourselves after the way Penn State handles their incidents, and allow for anyone to come forward years later, without judgment or backlash for not coming forward sooner.
We can’t achieve justice for sexual violence until we recognize that it is a true issue that needs solving.
Holly Mayer is a Junior English Major and Ethnic Studies minor. Letters and Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org