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Panel communicates sexual violence resources

| Thursday, October 9, 2014

In honor of the Gender Relations Center’s (GRC) Sexual Violence Awareness Month, a discussion panel titled “Know Your IX: Resources for Care and Support,” presented information about the options available for those who are victims of sexual violence on Wednesday in the Notre Dame Room of LaFortune Student Center.

“The goal of the panel is to show students that after an instance of sexual violence, they have multiple choices and avenues to pursue support, whether that be physical medical care, emotional care, counseling, or spiritual support in terms of talking to someone from campus ministry,” said Regina Gesicki, assistant director of GRC. “They can do those things simultaneously or separate[ly], and there’s a lot of resources on campus and in the community that are ready and waiting and available for students to help them heal from instances of violence.”

Among the panelists were members of the GRC, the University Health Center, St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, the Office of Community Standards and NDSP.

Melissa Lindley, Deputy Title IX Coordinator, said she wants to ensure Notre Dame is foremost a safe community.

“My number one priority is to make sure that were in compliance with the Office of Civil Rights and really, just to make sure that our campus is a healthy, safe place free from discrimination and harassment,” Lindley said.

Although students sometimes feel the process of reporting instances of sexual violence is daunting, Lindley said, Notre Dame works very hard to make the process a streamlined one so that the complainant does not have to repeat the story many times.

“[The complainants] have a lot of control in the process,” Lindley said. “I think that is one common misperception. Students often feel like the situation is out of their hands … Sometimes they do feel like it is too much [work to complete the process] and after the investigation, they say that they don’t want to move on, and we do try to respect their wishes. The only time when we would have to maybe go against their wishes would be if there is a major threat to campus safety.”

Dave Chapman, the associate director and deputy chief of NDSP, addressed the e-mails that are sent out at times of reports of sexual misconduct.

“We try to make it as vague as possible because we don’t want the victim to be identified; we just want the community to know that this happened on our campus,” Chapman said.

Heather Ryan, assistant director of the Office of Community Standards, said issues of sexual violence are treated very seriously at Notre Dame.

“If someone is found responsible for sexual misconduct, specifically non-consensual penetration, they would likely be permanently dismissed,” Ryan said. “We do take it very seriously, as something that is very important and that we have to protect our community.”

Sophomore and GRC event facilitator Katie Benz said it is important for students to know that they are not alone.

“The GRC is very open to students for not only advice for themselves but for other students as well,” Benz said. “The GRC is very adamant about promoting gender relations on campus, so that everyone feels welcome.”

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