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Here’s what happens if you choose to report an assault at CMC:

  1. Report assault or misconduct to an RA
  2. Report it to Camp Sec and a Dean
  3. Meet with a Dean and decide if you want to have confidentiality or to take “no action” meaning you would not have to be a participant in the investigation, but the school will still continue with the process
  4. Decide whether or not to have a no contact policy in place
  5. Choose a support person (friend, professor, coach)
  6. Investigator will interview complainant, respondent, and witnesses
  7. Investigator will send complainant and respondent written summary of all interviews
  8. Complainant and respondent are given the opportunity to respond to interviews
  9. Investigator will provide a summary of the investigation and findings: “reasonable cause exists or does not exist to believe that the alleged assault may have occurred.”
  10. If the investigator finds that there is reasonable cause, the respondent will have 5 days (not including an allowed extension) to respond to the findings: 1) responsible, 2) not responsible, or 3) not respond (which will be taken as not responsible)
  11. Wait
  12. Hearing will take place: complainant and respondent can have a support person. Both parties will provide an opening statement, a closing statement, and questions if they desire. Witnesses will be called in for questioning. An outside lawyer and 2 administrators or professors will be on the Hearing Board. A Title IX Coordinator will also be present during the hearing. (Complainant can request to be in a separate room from respondent)
  13. About a week after the hearing, the Board will reach a conclusion of whether or not a CMC policy was violated
  14. Decision will be given to the complainant and the respondent
  15. The case then goes to another administrator to review and assign sanctioning (1 of 16 different consequences ranging from warning to expulsion) if a policy violation was found
  16. The final review and sanctioning will be given to the complainant and respondent
  17. Both parties will have 2 business days (not including allowed extensions) to submit an appeal for 1) procedural error or 2) new information
  18. The Title IX Coordinator will review the appeal for proper formatting, then the appeal will be submitted to the Supervising Vice President for final determination
  19. If the appeal is denied, the imposed sanctions will stand.

I hope that the general outline above sheds some much-needed light on CMC’s Grievance Process. Even if you have not been through the process, you can plainly see that it is far from perfect. While the information above is useful I feel that it is not powerful. Last semester various sexual assault survivors shared their stories and I think it’s time that I share mine…

I’m not going to go into huge detail about what happened to me. Instead, I believe it would be more beneficial for everyone reading this to understand the process that happens afterwards. On the other hand, I do not want to deter anyone from reporting sexual assault or misconduct. While I hope that no one has to go through what I went through, sometimes things happen that just suck. I want to use my story to talk about what happens after the assault, because it doesn’t end there.

Last February, after a night of drinking, I was raped at a party. I am not a unique case. In fact, I am one in four. One in four women experience sexual assault while in college. I never thought it would happen to me, but then it did. It made me realize that no one is immune to sexual assault. This is an issue that affects everyone no matter their gender identity.

The first thing I did after I got myself out of that party was text my best friend. I told her and a few close friends what had happened to me. I must say that without their support and understanding, I wouldn’t have been able to go through the entire process. Accepting what happened was very difficult and emotional. But not blaming myself was probably the hardest part. That night my friends called an RA and I reported the assault. She recommended that I go to the hospital to get a “Rape Kit” and report it to the police.

At 2am, a friend took me to the hospital. Once we got there, we were put into a small, windowless side room. I then reported the assault to an unprofessional and condescending police officer. He kept asking me if a weapon was used, and if I had said no. He didn’t seem to understand that “No means No” is an archaic definition of rape. He asked me to give him all of my clothing so it could be used as evidence. When I asked him what I should wear back to school, he suggested I wear a backless hospital gown. After about two and a half hours of his insensitive questioning, I’d had enough. I complained about his behavior and lack of professionalism to his face and then I left before receiving a rape kit or any kind of care.

My friend took me back to campus and advised me not to shower in case I wanted to go back in the morning. When I got back to my room, I received an apologetic phone call from the police officer’s superior. He apologized profusely for the officer’s actions and encouraged me to return to the hospital. I do have to say that not all police officers are bad.

The next morning, I called my mom and told her everything. She got in the car and drove to CMC. My next call was to Camp Sec. It wasn’t even 10am and I was reporting my assault to a Camp Sec officer and a Dean. Shortly after, my mom arrived and took me to the hospital. This second trip was much better than the first. I had a Project Sister Advocate with me, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) who does the rape kit, and a different, more understanding police officer. Even with the much more supportive and understanding group of people around me, the rape kit was still incredibly uncomfortable and invasive. The nurse also gave me Plan B and multiple STI antibiotics. This was just day one of a rather rough semester.

A few days later, during my first meeting with a Dean, I was given a copy of the 40-page Civil Rights Guide, which I was pretty much expected to understand and memorize. In that meeting I was given the options to have confidentiality or to take “no action” if I did not want to continue with the process. However I was told that the college’s ability to investigate the conduct would be limited without my participation. So I decided not to remain anonymous and to take action. My rapist was going to know who it was anyways. Then I was asked if I would like to implement a “no contact” or a “mutual no contact” policy. I was told that a mutual no contact policy would be preferable because both the respondent and I would be tasked with actively avoiding each other. If you think avoiding that awkward one time hookup is uncomfortable, just try hiding from your rapist. I never knew how small a 1,300-person student body could feel.

Since I decided to be a part of the investigation, I was brought in for questioning by the outside investigator. I had probably told my story about half a dozen times before then. Each time it got a little easier and a little less painful to tell. But every time I still had to relive that night and that trauma.

I was given the option of choosing my support person or having one assigned to me, so I decided to have my coach be my support person. She was with me during the investigation and really helped me with my emotions. I gave the investigator names of people who I had been with that night. A few of them were brought in to answer questions, as was my assailant.

After the investigation, I was given written copies of the witness accounts. It shocked me that a couple people who were there that night were very quick to judge me based on the fact that I was drunk. When the investigator asked witnesses to recount what they saw, heard and noticed, I was surprised by some of what they said. I felt that people’s personal judgements were woven into their statements, instead of straightforward statements of fact. That was a very hard thing to read. I was confused and hurt by the idea that some people didn’t seem to understand that consent is always a step-by-step process and consenting to a kiss does not mean consenting to sex. Some of the statements were hard to read, and I did not feel that they reflected what I went through that night. To me, it was very simple. Rape is rape.

A few weeks after submitting my response, the investigator provided a summary of the facts and decided whether or not there was “reasonable cause to believe the alleged assault may or may not have occurred.” In my case, the investigator did find reasonable cause to believe the alleged assault occurred. When I read that, part of me felt relief, but another part was still knotted up with anxiety. The school’s decision gave me a sense of validation, however the continuation of this nightmare prevented me from having closure. The process was then in the hands of my rapist. He was given 5 days to respond to the findings. After receiving an extension of the initial time period, he denied responsibility. The entire nightmare of a process could have been finished right then and there had he just accepted responsibility. But he didn’t, and that’s when my parents and I decided it would be best to get a lawyer.

My lawyer took the place of my support person as we began to prepare for the hearing. Time crawled by as the school set the date for my hearing for the weekend right before finals. Try focusing on that final paper for your government class while getting ready for a sexual assault hearing. The day finally came; my lawyer and I were placed in a separate room per my request and participated via Skype. It took 5 ½ hours. There were 2 opening and closing statements, countless questions, and 6 witness accounts before I could get away from listening to him. I sat there, reliving the night, and listening to him blame me and not take any responsibility for what he had done.

Once the hearing was over, all of my work was finished. I had done everything I could. The rest was up to the Hearing Board and the school. It wasn’t until the semester was over and I was on vacation when I finally received the Board’s decision. They concluded that there was a policy violation and they decided expulsion would be the proper sanctioning. He appealed that sanctioning but his appeal was denied.

He was expelled on June 3rd, 152 days after I reported being raped. According to the Civil Rights Guide, “The College seeks to resolve all reports within sixty (60) days of the initial report.” My process was over 2.5 times this timeframe.

Even though the grievance process was difficult and emotionally draining, I can assure you that going through all of it was worth it. I can walk around campus freely without looking over my shoulder every 30 seconds. I can work out in the weight room without fearing he’s going to turn up. I can have lunch in the village without worrying that he’ll walk in and sit down. I feel free again at my own school. The verdict was monumental not just for me, but for all other sexual assault survivors who now know that CMC has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to rape. However, I do feel that CMC is a community that strives for excellence. Our grievance process, without a doubt, needs improvement and I believe that changes are being made for the betterment of the process and of our community as a whole.

 

Resources

Project Sister

http://projectsister.org

Claremont PD

http://www.ci.claremont.ca.us/pdhome.cfm

7 C Resources

http://7csexualmisconductresources.claremont.edu/support/support-resources/