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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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February 20, 2024
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February 12, 2024

Response to “UMass Boston revises its code of conduct in an attempt to deal with sexual assault” by Alexander Moore.

Dear Editor,
Thank you for publishing the piece “UMass Boston revises its code of conduct in an attempt to deal with sexual assault” by Alexander Moore. The revisions to the Code of Conduct are yet another crucial step in making the University of Massachusetts Boston a safer place for students, and I appreciate that the Mass Media is bringing light to this very important issue.

While this story was addressed with careful consideration, I wanted to clarify some information about the steps which a survivor of rape or sexual assault is required to take.

First, while survivors of rape and sexual assault have the option to report an incident to the Department of Public Safety, they are not obligated to, and can report an abuse to any administrator, employee, or professor on campus.

According to the Code of Conduct, “All members of the University (sic) community are expected to report all violations of Code to the Dean of Students Office” (page 12 and page 14).

While it is understandable that students are encouraged to directly contact Public Safety, for various reasons many may not feel comfortable doing so. Another option for survivors is to talk to Health Services, located on the second floor of the Quinn Administration Building. Health Services is well-equipped to deal with issues surrounding rape and sexual assault. Students can also report an offense to a trusted professor or administrator.

It is also important to note that if someone has been raped or sexually assaulted on the UMass Boston campus, they are absolutely not required to press charges outside of the university. For survivors, criminal cases can be an excruciating process in which they are often subjected to intense scrutiny and retraumatization. However, when a student tells a campus administrator, an on-campus investigation is required to take place within 365 days of initiating a complaint. As stated in the Code of Conduct:

“The University (sic) may independently investigate an allegation of student misconduct whether or not it has been submitted and whether or not it is beyond three hundred sixty-five days provided in this paragraph. A complaint will be investigated when it is submitted in writing (independently by the University (sic)) within three hundred sixty-five (365) days of the alleged violation or discovery of the alleged violation is presented to the Office of the Dean of Students” (page 13-14).

The above paragraph also states that any survivor does not have to report an abuse immediately after it takes place. Cases of rape and sexual assault are often time-sensitive situations and in order to investigate to the fullest capacity, survivors are encouraged to tell administration as soon as possible.

However, if a student does not feel emotionally, mentally, or physically ready to report an offense to the administration, they can wait until they are comfortable, and will not be punished or reprimanded for doing so. The only pressing factor is that 365 days after an alleged assault, the administration can but is not required to investigate.

If we are to understand the process by which survivors of rape and sexual assault are to report their abuse, we need to make sure all the options are clarified, all pervasive misinformation is dispelled, and that this issue is addressed using sensitive, comprehensive language. Furthermore, if any administrators, students, or employees find that our interpretation of the revised Code of Conduct is misleading or inaccurate, please feel free to contact us so we can correct it.

This article was written in response to the Mass Media’s article titled “UMass Boston revises its code of conduct in an attempt to deal with sexual assault,” published on September 16