Opinion | Time’s up, Chapman

Alex Ballard, junior political science, economics and history triple major

I’ve been a student at Chapman for three years. Here, I’ve had some incredible professional, social and academic opportunities. Chapman has provided me with some of my closest friends and supportive faculty members to guide me along my educational and personal journey.

I have a lot of love for this university, and it’s because I love Chapman so much that I am so adamant about the fact that I believe, based on my conversations with students, that the university needs to do a better job supporting students when dealing with sexual misconduct.

As upperclassmen senator on Chapman’s student government, I have worked for several months alongside Lindsey Ellis, Dodge senator, to talk with students about their experiences and issues with Title IX and the sexual misconduct investigation process at Chapman.

Together, we drafted a resolution outlining actions that we want to see taken at the university.

About 23 percent of women and almost 6 percent of men experience rape or sexual assault through “physical force, violence, or incapacitation, ” according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.

In addition, nearly 50 percent of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime. Sexual misconduct is a growing crisis nationwide that will not end unless we take a firm stance and commit to change as an institution.

It is essential that we ensure students are not re-traumatized by the investigation process. The emphasis must be on supporting students that report sexual misconduct with appropriate resources. After spending time speaking with students and faculty, I believe there are three core issues that need to be improved in our university’s investigation process: communication, efficiency and transparency.

We believe conducting an external review of Chapman’s Title IX policies and practices would serve the university, faculty and most importantly, students. After this comprehensive review is complete, there needs to be a student representative present when reviewing the findings and recommendations of the reviewers.

Additionally, it is critical that students who participate in investigations as witnesses or complainants receive full amnesty, not just amnesty from Student Conduct Code violations. With how the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy is written right now, if a student isn’t penalized for conduct code violations, it doesn’t mean he or she won’t see repercussions. These repercussions can impact a student’s campus employment, athletic participation and leadership positions if he or she is a witness or a victim in a sexual misconduct investigation and was drunk or on drugs at the time the incident in question took place.

Ultimately, we need to ensure that Title IX investigations are student-centered processes with the goal of protecting students and providing support for those needing to report sexual misconduct at Chapman.

I want to believe that I have the same goals as our university administration in supporting students, but Chapman has a long way to go before it can claim to. I strongly urge the university to engage in some serious self-examination on this issue, because time’s up, Chapman.

If you are a student who has faced sexual harassment or sexual assault on campus, and you feel comfortable sharing your story with me, I want to hear from you.

We can only address this problem when students speak up about their experiences, so I am here to listen so that we can make our campus community stronger.