Two assistant county prosecutors met with students yesterday at McKenny hall to discuss the very important topics of sexual assault and domestic violence. An estimated crowd of more than 50 students attended the presentation, which lasted almost two hours and was sponsored by EMU’s own Officer Dorsey.
The legal duo covered all aspects of sexual assault and the law, especially when it comes to college students. Perhaps most surprising was the revelation that the legislature has recently passed a new law that directly affects college students when it comes to reporting assault and sexual assault: the Minor Amnesty bill. According to the new legislation, anyone who reports, or helps another to report any form of assault cannot be charged with an MIP (Minor In Possession). This will hopefully encourage any student who needs help to seek it out, and not have to worry about being intoxicated under age. The prosecutors wanted to make it very clear that they really want to address the more important issue, and fear of punishment should not dissuade anyone from seeking help either from the school, police or at a hospital. A representative from EMU’s conduct board backed up the prosecutors and reminded all that EMU’s policy is in line with the new law.
A large portion of the event focused on consent, which was described as being on the other side of a coin with force. If one does not have consent, by definition force was involved. This is not necessarily in line with a popular view of force, which many have come to see as simply outdated.
After discussing the different laws Michigan has in place to protect victims of the various levels of criminal abuse and misconduct, officers offered to consult anyone seeking help after experiencing any form of assault. EMU has a great number of resources for all students. The EMU police will take 3rd person reports and report as much or as little as a victim wishes to give. EMU has also taken steps to provide victims with a female officer from start to finish. Another resource is the Snow Health Center, which as of April 1st will offer rape kits up to 120 hours after a rape, and many hospitals in the area also have specially trained S.A.N.Es, or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners. There are also a number of options for counseling such as the Women’s Resource Center, CAPS, and the local SAFE house.
Along with the discussion of sexual assault, information about the various forms of domestic violence was also presented. The prosecutor’s biggest recommendation was to remind everyone that things like stalking are quite serious. It is easy to miss something like stalking in a world where everyone has a cell phone and people receive hundreds of messages a day. Legally speaking, stalking is two or more instances of harassment of any kind, so this can be in person, but can also include phones and computers. The use of a telecommunication device in committing a crime can add years to a potential sentence. If there was one take away from all of the discussion of the various laws and penalties, it is that if you are feeling uncomfortable or unsure about something, the prosecutorial team is available to help. If a crime has been or is being committed, they can make make the charges fit. That is their entire job.