The increase of attention on sexual misconduct both throughout the nation and at Keene State College has caused KSC to formalize its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU.)
The MOU is a document that clarifies the roles and responsibilities of KSC and the Keene Police Department regarding sexual misconduct. Vice President of Student Affairs Kemal Atkins oversees the document because his job entitles him he to tend to the safety of students on campus.
According to Atkins, the MOU clarifies roles and responsibilities of KSC personnel and KPD regarding how they work to prevent and respond to sexual assault. Atkins said the MOU formalizes the relationship the college has with KPD.
“The MOU itself clarifies that when a student reports a sexual assault, victim or not, it assures the responsibility held and the process by which KSC handles it,” Atkins said.
KSC and KPD have separate processes for handling sexual assault reports. According to Atkins, if a report is filed on campus regarding sexual misconduct, KSC will make sure the students are safe and explain the rights they have as a KSC student.
“We have to hold students accountable for their behavior through our conduct process and the increase of expectation [for how to handle these incidents] in the government,” Atkins said.
He said that KSC looked to reconstruct the MOU because it is the law for a college to have documentation of what is expected regarding the handling of sexual misconduct.
Students have the options of going through the College’s conduct process, going to the police or not going through a process at all.
Some students prefer to talk about sexual misconduct without involving the police, which can be done at KSC’s Counseling Center. Though, if a victim of sexual assault would like to prosecute, both processes will end at the police department.
Chief of Police Brian Costa said that KSC and KPD both share the goal of preventing sexual assault.
“The most important thing is to come forward,” Costa said about students reporting sexual misconduct. Costa said the MOU helps students to understand they can safely report a crime. He assures KSC students that there is “nothing secretive” about the MOU.
Costa said the MOU is good documentation of what should be happening during a report of sexual misconduct. “It’s good to get it in writing,” he said.
Coordinator of Sexual Violence Education and Prevention Forrest Seymour said it is important for KSC to focus on the prevention of sexual assault.
“The reality is that most sexual assaults don’t get reported,” Seymour said. He said that he thinks it’s great that KPD and KSC are working together to make reporting more “user friendly” for students.
Seymour said reporting sexual assault is a “small piece” of handling sexual misconduct. KSC has prevention programs on campus such as the play “No Zebras,” and the Mentors in Violence Prevention Program, which are all safe and as caring as can be, according to Seymour.
“There’s been an increase in attention on the problem of sexual assault that has taken place on campus,” Atkins said. He said there is more legislation coming from the government regarding how colleges and universities handle sexual assault.
Those accused of sexual assault will be treated the same as victims of sexual assault, according to Atkins. “We want to ensure that their rights are protected as well,” he said.
Atkins said the College has hired a new Title XI Coordinator on campus to closely handle sexual assault on campus. He said KSC is reviewing its policies on campus and working on improving the way sexual misconduct is handled.
The MOU assures students that they can comfortably confide in a KSC faculty member without having to get the police involved. It also clarifies that if students do choose to go to the police, a process will be carried out to prosecute.
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