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Annamarie Parker
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I am an English, Writing major with a double minor in German and journalism. I'm also pursuing my TESOL certificate while working for Housing and Residence Life. I love to travel and meet new people.

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Sal Wiertella March 1, 2024

Domestic Violence Awarness Month, part one of a three-part series: Sexual misconduct victims offered resources

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Approximately 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Approximately 90 percent of these crimes are never reported. According to NMU’s Public Safety and Police Services Crime Statistics, 11 cases of sexual assault were reported on NMU’s campus last year.

NMU provides information and the option to utilize many internal and external resources in the event of a sexual misconduct case on campus, allowing victims full control of how to proceed after a crime is committed, Associate Dean of Students and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Mary Brundage said.

“It’s totally up to them how to proceed,” Brundage said. “They’ve got friends talking to them saying, ‘you should do this, you should do that,’ but ultimately it’s up to them.”

Outside resources for students include UP Health System Marquette, where free Rape Kits are available and the Women’s Center, where people can go for support in the case of assault. University resources include the option to pursue legal action against an assailant through Public Safety or to alternatively pursue action through the university’s sexual misconduct policy. Students also have access to the counseling center free of charge.

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Reports of sexual assaults are filed by students, residence life staff, Public Safety and faculty members, Brundage said. Any university employee who is made aware of a case of sexual assault is required to report to the university for statistical purposes to accurately represent the number of sexual misconduct incidents occurring on campus.

“When you look at those numbers, they don’t represent the amount of sexual misconduct that students are experiencing, they represent the number of students who come forward to let us know what’s happened on campus property in a year,” she said. 

Brundage added these reports are important for the university to know the peak times of the year for sexual misconduct, common scenarios where misconduct happens and the names of repeat offenders. Specific information, including the names of the people involved, are kept confidential.

“We know that the majority of sexual misconduct is happening when alcohol or other drugs are involved,” Brundage said. “You guys know that too.”

Brundage explained that she reaches out to every student who has filed a complaint about sexual misconduct through email. Sexual misconduct encompasses sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking and voyeurism, she said.

In the email, Brundage invites the student to meet with her so she can provide support and share or clarify information about courses of action available to the student. The meeting is optional and the student is welcomed to bring a support person, she added.

“I don’t want any student to feel blindsided when they come in,” Brundage said. “Almost every student chooses to meet with me, which is great.”

The email also includes an attachment to NMU’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, a brochure outlining what to expect when approaching different offices about sexual misconduct and a flier that provides the contact information of resources available.

“If someone chooses not to come see me, all the information that I would go over—they have there, they just might have to dig for it more,” Brundage said.

One resource specifically available to public university students is the option to pursue a Title IX Investigation, Equal Opportunity Officer and Title IX Coordinator Janet Koski said.

“[Title IX Investigations] give students another option,” Koski said. “If they don’t want to move forward criminally, they have an option to move forward with the university’s internal process.”

The NMU policy regarding sexual misconduct will soon include an amendment to compensate for recent changes made to Title IX by the U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos. On Sept. 22, Devos rescinded the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter that was included in Title IX to outline sexual misconduct protocols required of universities. This also rescinded an Obama-era 45-page Q&A that expanded on the Dear Colleague Letter in 2014.

The Dear Colleague Letter and Q&A were replaced by 11 pages of interim guidance, Koski said. Within the next year, there will be an open public comment period to gather information and finalize a new document similar to the Dear Colleague Letter. For now, NMU is continuing to use its current policy with the addition of a temporary amendment.

“[Devos] has a different opinion than the Obama era on what universities should do in regards to Title IX and sexual assault or sexual misconduct on campuses,” Koski said. “So we’ll have to wait and see what that finalized version will be.”

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