Staff and faculty seek to help victims of sexual assault

By Jessica Broverman, Editor

Rape has made its mark on college campuses all across the nation. As explained earlier in this three part segment, West Liberty students have also been subjected to sexual misconduct. From policies on campus, to students opening up about personal experiences, we may now take a look at our staff and faculty and figure out what we are doing right and what we can do better.

Criminology Professor Keith Bell commented on his open door policy when it comes to students coming to him concerning rape.

“I have spoken with both male and female students, students of all races, and students of various age groups, and I think promoting yourself as one who will listen and support students is vital,” said Bell. 

“Students are made aware that my door is always open and I am willing to speak about anything and will assist them in the help they need; be it sexual assault, suicide, depression, help with courses, and so on,” said Bell. “We are role models to these students whether we believe it or not, and we are here to educate both in the classroom and out.”

“There’s an online training system they want us to go do, but we never had a formal ‘if this happens, this is what you should do’ kind of thing. I think right now they are kind of relying on everyone’s common sense,” said Department Chair of Communications, Brian Fencl.

 “I’m pretty useless in giving advice. The best thing I can do is turn to the right person on campus and speak with someone like Bridgette Dawson about what to do,” said Fencl. Bridgette Dawson is WLU’s Title XI coordinator and is the person to which all staff and faculty members must report rape situations to, amongst several other types of misconduct.

Some members of the WLU community take a different route in an effort to help students. Professor of Social Work Sheli Goff said, “The way I handled the situation a few years ago and the way I would have to handle the situation now would be completely different. The person that was told must report it to the university Title IX coordinator. If I perceive that a student is about to tell me that he or she was sexually assaulted I will let them know that whatever is told to me must be reported.”

Goff went on to say that after providing a possible victim with this information, she lets them know of resources that are available to them. The reason for this has much to do with the student coming forward and protecting them in a different way.

“Trying to force the victim to speak out is a violation of their person-hood and their control of his or her decision making process,” said said Director of Housing and Student Life Marcella Snyder. “The more a person tries to help the worse it can be because the help is no longer help. It’s a type of victimization where you are trying to assert what you think is best as opposed to what the victim deciding what is in his or her best interest.”

Vice President of Student Services, Scott Cook said, “West Liberty takes the safety of its students very seriously. We have a professional campus police force which is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We have a Title IX Coordinator and a Judicial Coordinator that investigate all reported violations of our Student Code of Conduct. We have a well-trained residence life staff that assists in campus safety. We also focus on personal safety with freshmen during our College 101 class.”

If you or a friend has experienced any form of sexual misconduct, you may speak with counselor Lisa Witzberger in room 139 located in Main Hall. If you would like to report any form of sexual misconduct, you may contact campus police at 304-336-8021 or visit their office located on the first floor or Shaw Hall.

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