By Erin Sanders – Contributing Writer
This doesn’t happen at Lasell. Not in Newton. In the aftermath of the alleged sexual assault at Lasell on October 18, these comments buzzed throughout campus. Most students were unaware that this was not the first assault here. This ignorance has become a threat to student safety.
For the first time since 2006, an alleged sexual assault was reported to students through email the following Monday, October 20. This came even though there have been six on-campus alleged assaults reported to campus police since 2011, not including the number of unreported assaults.
In the recent case, Lasell informed students because the attacker was unknown and could still be at large, according to Vice President of Student Affairs, Diane Austin. Lasell informed students “where the situation constitutes a continuing or ongoing threat against members of the Lasell College community,” as stated in the Campus Safety Guide and Fire Report. However, keeping this information from students, whether the issue is resolved or ongoing, gives the impression sexual assaults do not happen on our campus.
Experiencing sexual assault is traumatic and we feel for those involved. However, we encourage everyone to report such events to campus police, but students must also take responsibility. Though Newton is one of the safest cities in the country, sexual assaults do not discriminate based on zip code.
“If we thought there was any additional risk of any real magnitude, we would be informing students,” said Austin.
We commend the administration for reporting this recent case, as well as complying with changes to Title IX and the Campus Save Act, which requires colleges to educate their community on the prevention of sexual assaults. In addition, Lasell and Mount Ida have opened a RAD defense class to their female students as an ongoing investigation of the alleged assault is continuing, according to the Newton Tab.
Lasell raised an important issue by encouraging self-defense, but the knowledge of what is happening on campus could be just as powerful. Keeping our community informed and educated are our most powerful weapons against assaults. Creating awareness encourages victims not to be scared or embarrassed, and ultimately works towards eliminating the problem as a whole.