Students voiced their concerns about Yale’s support system for rape victims at a panel discussion and open forum Tuesday evening.
The panel, which was sponsored by the student advocacy group Rape and Sexual Violence Prevention, was held to inform students about their options if they experience sexual harassment at Yale. Speaking to a crowd of about 30 students, administrators and health professionals in Linsley-Chittenden Hall, the five-member panel — which included freshman counselors and some of Yale’s sexual harassment experts — discussed how to increase the visibility of support programs for sexually assaulted students, what victims should do after rape and how rape evidence is collected after assaults. The panel comes just over a month after Greg Korb ’08 was accused of rape.
“The recent [case] has left the student body confused about Yale resources, so our goal today is for students to come out of the talk understanding how these linked organizations work,” RSVP co-coordinator Allyson Goldberg ’08 said.
Yale College Dean Peter Salovey, who attended the event, said he thinks RSVP-sponsored events that are critical of the University’s policies on student issues such as rape play a vital role in the Yale community.
“These are critically important issues that need to be brought to our attention,” Salovey said. “We want to be informed by thoughtful students, who have studied these issues in-depth, about what programs work and what needs to be improved.”
Some audience members raised questions about the confidentiality and dependability of the Executive Committee — the University’s highest disciplinary body — regarding sexual assault. Panel moderator and RSVP member Della Sentilles ’06 referred to a case in which he said a victim’s written statement of sexual harassment was not kept confidential from her assaulter.
But Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg said all such documents are kept confidential by ExComm. She also said sexual assault victims get to choose whether they want their case to be heard by ExComm or the University’s grievance board.
“We always respect the student’s right to do what she or he wants,” Trachtenberg said.
Several audience members criticized Yale for its lack of a centralized program for sexual assault prevention and support, though Carole Goldberg, a psychiatrist at Yale University Health Services who moderated the panel, said she thinks the current, decentralized system is more effective.
“There’s a network of care depending on what people are comfortable with,” Goldberg said. “They will get consistent information wherever they go.”
Sentilles said she thought the event was productive in raising issues that students should be aware of, though she said she felt no one wanted to answer what she thought was the most important question — why Yale’s sexual assault programs are not more centralized.
Panelists for the event included Prevention Coordinator of the Women and Families Center Nathan Cropper, School of Nursing professor Linda Degutis, and freshman counselors Mollie Farber ’06 and Chris Connelly ’06.
Yae Police Department Sergeant Peter Brano, who attended the forum, said he thinks it is important that victims report rapes as soon as possible.
“While a victim is taking too much long to decide what he or she should do, valuable time is being lost and soon there will be no case,” he said.
Last spring, the Yale College Council passed a resolution that called for the formation of a panel to review Yale’s sexual assault and education policies. The administration convened a committee to review the University’s rape policy last spring, and the committee plans to release its findings by the end of the semester.