UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Campus Safety Investigates Possible Sexual Assault

Recently the Public Safety Department sent out a blast email to all UMB students regarding some dubious activity in the campus center. “On Saturday, November 7, at approximately 3:30 p.m., a woman reported that she fell asleep in the Campus Center and did not “feel right” when she woke up. Officers responded, and based upon the woman’s statements, summoned an ambulance and began an investigation to determine if she was the victim of a sexual assault.

Some students may have found this message unnerving, as reflected by English major Meagan Fitzpatrick who commented “The email made me feel uneasy because it was so vague, and didn’t offer much insight into the situation.”

Campus Police Chief, who was unwilling to formally comment said, “the matter is still under investigation.”

The police are legally bound to silence in these matters due to the Rape Shield Law. The law prohibits the disclosure of any information to anyone regarding an alleged sexual assault without the victim’s permission.

The blast emails were sent, because under the Cleary Act, they must “report to the campus community those crimes considered to represent a threat to students and employees in a manner that is timely and will aid in the prevention of similar crimes.”

Marita Poll, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs/ Dean of Students, has conflicting feelings about the Rape Shield law.

“I understand that the victim has a right to privacy, but I want to be able to help any student who has been victimized in any way I can but unless they choose to come forward then there is nothing I can do. Of course should a student come forward [the Office of Student Affairs] would provide any kind of support that the victim was asking for, as well as work with Campus Police in finding the alleged perpetrator,” she said.

If a person who feels he or she has been victimized he or she needs to let the Office of Student Affairs know, so our school can work better with law enforcement towards finding the culprit and improving campus safety.

Any member of the UMB community who believes they are the victims of a sexual assault should report the offense as soon as possible to the Department of Public Safety. Public Safety provides specialized training to a number of officers, enabling them to deal in a sensitive and effective way with victims of sexual assault.

The Department’s primary concern is to assist victims of sexual offenses and assure that they receive prompt medical and emotional treatment and support.

According to Poll, “this procedure would be followed with any kind of assault, and if a perp was found the school would then conduct a fact finding hearing, a sort of court proceeding where all the information regarding the case would be gathered and reviewed by Associate Dean of Students Joyce Morgan, and proper disciplinary action would be taken.”

The minimum punishment administered by the school for any kind of assault is disciplinary probation; persons found responsible for more serious forms of assault could face suspension for a semester or more, and in certain cases, expulsion.

“Students should feel safe at UMB” Poll says, “In the year I have been working here very few cases have been reported to my office.”

The Public Safety statistics which are available online also show that no sex offenses have been reported since 2006.

However Lt. Stan Stewart wanted to stress the importance of the Public Safety phone number. “Every member of the UMB community should have the direct line to Public Safety saved in their cell phone. The number is 617-287-1212. It is very important because if you dial 9-11 on a cell phone, the call is directed to the Framingham State Police Department, who then have to figure out where you are and which Police Department should handle the call. This process can take several minutes and really slow down response time.”

About the Contributor
Jacob Aguiar served as the following positions for The Mass media the following years: News Editor: 2011-2012; Fall 2012 Leisure Editor: 2010-2011