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Defining Sexual Misconduct on a College Campus

How State Laws and University Rules Differ

By: Julie Ratcliffe

SHIPPENSBURG- The statistics are staggering, according to a justice department study, 1 in 5 college women has been sexually assaulted. However, the stark facts don’t reveal the complexity of understanding sexual crimes on college campuses and how they differ from State statutes.

In Pennsylvania, sexual assault is a narrowly define crime, earning  perpetrator up to 10 years in prison.

According to Stephanie Jirard, J.D, sexual is “intercourse without consent” but the University definition of assault is not narrow at all.”

Director of Judicial Affairs, Janet Janifer  explains that University defines assault as any unwanted contact between one person to another, the University does not require intercourse to be part of the act.

P.A Law’s definition of rape is intercourse without consent but includes forcible compulsion. Forcible compulsion means that the accused forced intercourse or somehow incapacitated the victim. Neither the University nor state law considers being under the influence as a form of consent or accept any permissions given will under the influence as true consent.

It doesn’t matter what crime you’re charged with by the University, the punishment is the same, either suspension or expulsion. Where the differences do matter, is within the state judicial system, a charge of rape can land someone accused of rape in jail for up to 40 years.

The University is putting procedures in place to make sure their students stay out of the system. Women’s Center Director, Stephanie Erdice, says the University is trying to empower the Ship community to make a culture shift and speak out against sexual violence.

Programs like REACT and Ship Says No more make it their mission to educate their peers on the subject of sexual violence and act as victim advocates.

If you are a victim of sexual violence and would like to report a crime, call SU Police at 717-477-1444 or talk to a member of Ship Says No More. Visit the Ship Says No More website to find out more information.

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