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Revamped Sexual Assault Task Force Improves Prevention on Campus

In the beginning of the Fall 2011 semester, F&M appointed Janet Masland, a registered nurse, to the newly created position of Director of Sexual Assault. She had previously been the sexual assault victims’ advocate, and while she is no longer in this position, she still provides many of the same services.

Masland had a history in place, which helped her get into her current position. She explained that she was on the Lancaster Board of Child Abuse and had experience with this issue, saying “I had just become more and more interested in the issue of sexual assault on campus and then it became apparent that this position was needed and that it fit into my expertise and schedule and my other jobs.” Due to Masland’s training and involvement in sexual assault prevention on campus, Dean Trachte decided that she was perfect for the necessary position. Yet, Dean O’Day still has the responsibility for all of the policies and procedures for the disposition of the complaints of sexual assault.

The system in place here at F&M is still very much the same, though it has been rearranged. When a victim reveals to someone his or her identity, he or she is handed over to counseling services. From there, the victim is referred to Masland and they decide what they would like to do. These options can go as far as criminal prosecution to just finding an advisor for the victim.
The sexual assault task force was formed in 2006 and was led by Janet Fisher and Eliza Reilly. This task force met and developed a report, from which many of the recommendations that were made came into being. In November 2010, the task force reconvened to look at the recommendations to see what actions had been taken. They also wrote an updated report at that time. The task force has funds allocated for it by financial services, maintains a budget, and has managed to retain legal council in Bret Sokolow, J.D. Sokolow advises schools nationally on risk management and is an expert on sexual assault on college campuses. Masland mentioned that Sokolow has trained and the paneland that his advice is helpful.
The F&M community is already noticing the success of its sexual assault prevention and programs throughout the campus. Masland noted, “We have looked at our policies and procedures and we are in good shape. We had good ones beforehand but we needed to enhance some of the things we were doing. We especially needed to do something about alcohol consumption among other things.” There are many signs pointing to the success of F&M’s sexual assault prevention programs, such as an increased number of reports of sexual assault cases. Masland explained, “We look for an increase of reports, because it means that you have created an atmosphere where victims feel protected and comfortable in reporting. We have seen a major increase in reports, which is a good sign.” She noted, however, that it “will be a long time before we know whether we [the sexual assault task force and F&M sexual assault prevention programs] are having a strong effect.” Another good sign for the community is that the Chief of Public Safety has met with the Lancaster City Police downtown and they are working well together.

However, F&M is still trying to collect as much information as it can about these cases of sexual assault. Every other March, F&M sends out a survey via email to the whole student body for the students to fill out anonymously pertaining to their sexual habits. This survey asks a wide range of questions, including many on sexual assault. Yet, there are still many good signs according to the data that F&M has received so far. According to Masland, each year there has been a modest decrease in the number of people having sexual assault problems.
Masland also noted that awareness of sexual assault has greatly increased on campus, largely due to the joint efforts of the sexual assault task force and the student groups. The men’s group, 1 in 4, has been, according to Masland, “very active on campus this year and has great leadership on campus.” In addition, Save, a women’s group, has also been very active on campus in terms of sexual assault prevention. Also, the sexual assault response team makes sure to get the message across about this issue with discussions and programs for the freshmen during orientation.

“Our program here at F&M is in great shape and is a model for other schools.” Masland said. “In fact, I have been asked by other schools to report what we do here at F&M and how we do it since our program is so strong.”

Along with being the Her Campus Franklin and Marshall Campus Correspondent, I am also the editor-in-chief of Epilogue, F&M's literary Magazine, Staff Writer for The College Reporter, F&M's student newspaper, and a very active member of Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity. When not hard at work, you can find me writing, reading, geeking out over Disney movies with my friends, or doing art projects.
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