If you’re a victim of sexual assault, Appalachian State University has a number of services it provides to help.
One of the services provided is counseling. Regardless of who an incident is reported to, you will often be referred to the counseling center.
“Sometimes, victims don’t even want to press criminal charges,” said Bindu Jayne, associate vice chancellor of diversity. “They might just need someone to talk to.”
Other resources offered to victims include notifications if the victim is struggling in their classes, adjustments to housing and parking situations, and helping the student receive medical help.
“These resources are always available to any student or faculty or staff member who need them,” Jayne said.
The University Police also offer preventative resources for students, such as Rape Aggression Defense Training.
Gunther Doerr, the chief of police for the ASU Police, said the training is designed to help students become more physically and mentally prepared to fend off attackers.
“It really gets into the psychological as well as the physical response to aggression,” Doerr said. “In a lot of cases, primarily with females, we find that women have never pushed back against a male. So it’s a combination of developing mental confidences in saying no and pushing back against someone being overly physical and aggressive, and also some physical techniques to help them.”
If a student is the victim of a sexual crime perpetrated by another student, the process of reporting the incident is done through the Office of Student Conduct.
Jayne said the administration works with the victims and proceeds with the investigation at a pace that the victim is comfortable with.
“We proceed as soon as the student is ready to participate in the process,” Jayne said. “We may take a couple meetings to proceed, but that’s not because of administrative delay, but it may take someone a little while to begin their own healing and be able to say, ‘This is my own healing and I’m ready to move forward.’”
The investigation conducted by student conduct is not the same as a criminal investigation. If a student wishes to press charges, that is handled through the police department.
According to Doerr, when victims elect to pursue criminal charges, the police share information with the university investigation being done by Student Conduct to ensure a satisfying result.
“We work closely with Student Conduct to make sure that all the proper resources can be provided to the student,” Doerr said.
According to the the Code of Student Conduct, the minimum punishment for a student found guilty of sexual harassment by the university investigation is disciplinary probation for one calendar year. The minimum penalty for non-consensual sexual intercourse is suspension for eight semesters. These are the punishments from the investigation by Student Conduct, and not related to the sentences the perpetrators would face as a result of any possible criminal charges.
In 2014, eight cases of rape and 11 cases of forcible fondling were reported to ASU Police.
Jayne said it’s important for the victims of sexual crimes to know the routes available to them, as well as the services they can use to recover.
“Dealing with and moving past a trauma as horrible as a sexual assault prevents a student from getting the education they deserve,” Jayne said. “It’s imperative that they know that there are people on this campus, and policies and processes that put into place these structures that allow them to succeed while they heal.”
Story by Tommy Culkin, Senior News Reporter