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Student survivors of sexual assault say SCE changed their lives

A Buckeyes ACT poster is left on a chair removed from the Sexual Civility and Empowerment Center in Lincoln Tower. The center’s practices are currently under review. Credit: Ris Twigg | Assistant Photo Editor

Three Ohio State students spoke during the Undergraduate Student General Assembly session Wednesday evening in the Senate Chamber, giving emotional accounts about how the Sexual Civility and Empowerment office helped them through their sexual assault experiences.

Katherine Brink, third-year in music performance and communication, spoke about her sexual assault experience during her first year with the Ohio State Marching Band in her first semester of college.

“Without SCE, I would not have completed my first year in the marching band, a life-long dream of mine,” Brink said.” Without SCE I would not have completed my first semester of college, let alone make the Dean’s List that semester. Without SCE, I would not have survived.”

Mace Hickman, a third-year in political science and women’s, gender and sexuality studies, said SCE was their support system after being sexually assaulted. Hickman used the office during the incident reporting process and said those there helped hold their hand throughout the process.

“They provided endless guidance, and I would not be here today without the deeply personal services they provided me with,” Hickman said.

The three sexual assault survivors who spoke at the session showed their frustration with the SCE office halting services, making the students feel like they were left in the dark.

“The virtually non-existent communication and lack of transparency and accountability from the university, regarding its ongoing external review of the sexual assault civility and empowerment program, has been incredibly frustrating and re-traumatizing, not only for myself, but for my friends, colleagues, and fellow students who depend on SCE for support or for employment,” Brink said.

The SCE office has been under review for six weeks. No official statement on a specific reasoning for the review has been released from the university due to its ongoing process.

Brink listed other resources available to students who experience sexual assault, such as Counseling and Consultation Service or Title IX but she said none of them are as comprehensive or survivor focused as SCE.

Buckeyes ACT Committee, directed by Department of Student Life and endorsed by University President Michael Drake, is Ohio State’s comprehensive plan to combat sexual misconduct and relationship violence. Two students currently sit on the committee.

USG Vice President Shawn Semmler said the task force and USG are both looking to add one or two more student voices to the mix, which would include those who are passionate and knowledgeable about the subject.

USG also unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday night that supports implementation of more “adequate” resources for sexual assault survivors on campus with a specific timeline, funding and benchmarking that Buckeyes ACT Committee would also agree to.

The next step for the resolution is for USG to work with the Buckeye ACT task force to create recommendations to present to the University Senate.

During the discussion of the resolution among the senators, the sponsor of the bill, Maria Humayun, a second-year in international studies and public affairs, shared her own experience with sexual assault, explaining why the subject is extremely important to her.

“I did not know about SCE [when I was sexually assaulted]; I didn’t know where to go for help. I personally didn’t reach out for help,” Humayun said. “This has been a resource for many, many students, and this has helped them through the toughest of times, and I think it is very important to [have] access to.”

Adrienne Michelson, a fourth-year in political science, discussed her history with Title IX as a sexual assault survivor.  

“The last time I was in this chamber, I resigned my position [as the director of the diversity inclusion committee] in the fall of [2015],” Michelson said. “I resigned that position watching my assaulter watch me resign.”

Since her time at Ohio State and in USG, Michelson has learned more about the history of Title IX and sexual assault survivors’ resources at Ohio State, and she expressed frustration with university’s handling of these resources on campus.

“This is a public health crisis,” Michelson said. “Just as much as the mental health issue that we’ve been facing, this is just as much of an issue.”

One comment

  1. I am a survivor who used the SCE services. I’ve only heard of more negative experiences than positive ones from other students. Like one expression suicidal ideation and was dismissed. Another told that they really need to start moving on from the assault. I was both concerned and relieved when I heard the department was under review. I do think it’s necessary that they are under review. That being said, the university should have been more transparent with students.

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