A reported sexual assault was turned over to the Title IX office on Jan. 15. The Title IX office can offer students support in tough times.
School is back in session; make sure to pack your pens, pencils and pepper spray. Despite mandatory Title IX training every year, Webster University is still facing the issue of sexual assault on campus. Since the start of the new semester, one report of sexual assault on campus has already been made to Public Safety.
An alleged sexual assault was reported to Webster University’s Department of Public Safety on Jan. 15 and listed on the Public Safety activity log in accordance with federal regulations,” Patrick Giblin, the director of public relations, wrote in a statement.
For the privacy and safety of all parties involved, the university can not share any information about the alleged assault. The Webster incident only one of the many reported sexual assaults that take place on college campuses across the U.S.
“Webster University is committed to providing a safe and productive learning environment free from unlawful discrimination of any kind,” Giblin said. “The university maintains a robust Title IX complaint and investigation procedure for all allegations of sexual harassment, assault and discrimination.”
Beth Cromer, a Webster student, detailed her own experience with sexual assault while attending the university.
“Freshman year, I invited a boy who lived on my dorm floor over to listen to music, we sat in bed and didn’t become physical for a little while until we started kissing,” Cromer said. “I told him I didn’t want to be in a relationship with him and wasn’t ready for a boyfriend.”
After her refusal, Cromer said the man became overwhelmed with emotion and guilted her into agreeing to a relationship. During the relationship, she said he would lie and shame her into situations that she was uncomfortable with. She said these actions shortly led to the alleged attempted assault.
Cromer mentioned having a hard time understanding she was assaulted and manipulated until her sophomore year of college. Despite the alleged assault taking place on campus, she never reported it to the Title IX office.
“I haven’t brought this up to the Title IX office because I have, in many ways, been disappointed by Webster,” Cromer said. “Being emotionally abused and manipulated and sexually coerced my freshman year, followed by a suicide attempt, really put a damper on my college experience.”
She did seek counseling on the Webster campus after her experience freshman year. She was encouraged to report the assault to the Title IX office to perform an actual investigation.
“I have heard many complaints about the Title IX office, namely one where they left a case untouched for over 400 days,” Cromer said.
Giblin disputed the claim, said that the university is not aware of any current case that matches the description provided. He referenced an article The Journal wrote two years ago about allegations of sexual harassment against a student from a professor on campus.
“However, in January 2020 the university entered a resolution agreement with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) regarding that case which acknowledged the OCR had made no finding of wrongdoing against the university,” Giblin said.
Instead of contacting Title IX, Cromer exposed the alleged abuser on an Instagram account called “stlactivist.” The account was known for outing people in St. Louis who were not being held responsible for their actions, such as rape.
“I am not afraid of coming forward, but I am afraid of the disappointment I might face,” Cromer said.
If you are a Webster student who has faced sexual harassment or assault, contact the university Title IX office to open a case. The university webpage will guide you to a list of offices you can call if you have been assaulted on campus.
“Once the Title IX Coordinator receives a formal report of Sexual Harassment, the University is required by law to investigate and take prompt and effective action to (1) end any misconduct that occurred; (2) remedy its effect; and (3) prevent its recurrence. The University is obligated to protect the safety of the University community, whether or not you wish to pursue disciplinary resolution,” according to a statement from Title IX on the university’s webpage.
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Abby Frye (she/her) is the managing editor for The Journal. She was previously the lifestyle editor in the fall 2020 semester. She writes news and lifestyle stories and works outside of Webster, but enjoys her cats and getting tattoos.