Ada Chief Police Michael Harnishfeger address ONU freshmen during their orientation, covering topics such as alcohol, cheating and sexual misconduct. (Ada Herald/Megan Watson)
Ada Chief Police Michael Harnishfeger address ONU freshmen during their orientation, covering topics such as alcohol, cheating and sexual misconduct. (Ada Herald/Megan Watson)
ADA — Last year President Barack Obana signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. This supports several grand programs through 2018, that strive to protect women from rape and increase access and confidence in reporting of sexual violence crimes. This Act was originally written by Vice President Joe Biden in 1994 and since then it has helped to decrease the rates of domestic violence across the country. With the latest reauthorization comes increased resources for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. In addition, thousands of law enforcement will be better equipped to stop violence before it starts and respond to calls when needed.

Studies have shown that one in five women will be the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault while they are in college. This Act will help by requiring colleges and universities to provide information to students about dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking and improve data collection about these crimes. President Obama has called on all colleges and universities to make ending sexual assault a top priority.

Ohio Northern University is already on the road to reducing sexual violence. While ONU is a pretty quiet campus, they do have one to two reports of sexual violence a year. The key is that they keep the lines of communication very open. Students can file complaints with ONU Director of Student Conduct Chad Shepherd, security, residence life or any faculty member. During freshman orientation they listen to a presentation calling “Making Sound Choices”. During the presentation students were given a reality check about college life. They listened to the possible consequences to bad choices as well as heard testimonials from students who have made those bad choices and learned hard lessons. It was made very clear that the college takes reports of sexual crimes of any nature very seriously. Gone are the days of blaming victims for “being too drunk... dressing wrong... not protecting themselves”. Shepherd told students they would be accountable for their actions and urged them to consider how important their future was to them.

Students also heard from Ada Chief Police Michael Harnishfeger. He shared with them that not only would they face consequences with ONU, but they would also have to deal with the legal consequences.

Harnishfeger told students that he wanted to see them in the community making a difference and would even love to have them assisting the Ada PD. In closing he asked all students to program the police office number into their phones and to remember that he was there for them as well.

Rape is not something people like to talk about, and imagining sexual violence on a college campus is even harder. However, change comes from raising awareness. Ohio Northern University is doing their part to keep college students alert to the dangers of sexual violence and have many resources in place to make it easy and safe for victims to report a crime. They are currently working to update their sexual misconduct policies, not just for students but for the entire campus. Student Affairs, Risk Management, Human Resources and the Law School are uniting to update their sexual misconduct policies, not just for students but for the entire campus.