As a survivor of rape, Southern Oregon student Niki Genthe recently shared her very personal story and her search for justice with ABC News’ “20/20” news magazine show. The show put SOU’s and Ashland Police Department’s joint effort called, “You Have Options” in the national spotlight.
Two years ago, Genthe was a college junior at Southern Oregon University when a friend she had been dating confessed to sexually assaulting her while she was sleeping under the influence of sleeping pills. With the help of the “You Have Options” program and the Ashland Police Department, Genthe’s attacker was arrested and pleaded guilty to one count of sexual abuse.
She is now sharing her story in hopes it will raise awareness about the programs in Ashland that allowed her to be able to hold her attacker accountable and begin the healing process.
Genthe learned about the You Have Options program through SOU’s Women Resource Center. With the help of Angela Fleisher, a confidential advisor at SOU, Genthe chose to file a report with the Ashland Police Department for a complete criminal investigation after her former boyfriend confessed to the assault.
Reporting options offered by the program include complete criminal investigations like Genthe’s, partial investigations, information only reports, as well as online anonymous reporting. Throughout the reporting process, victims control who is contacted during the investigation and when to proceed with charges if they decide to do so.
The program is changing the way law enforcement and university campuses respond to incidents of sexual assault by offering university students victim-centered reporting options other than Title IX campus investigations, which are not criminal investigations.
While Title IX is a federal law used to ensure equal educational opportunities and combat campus violence in federally funded schools, it does not ensure victim confidentiality, and administrative punishments for offenders can range anywhere from expulsion to being kicked out of dorms to nothing.
In a climate where 85 U.S. colleges are under investigation by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights for Title IX misconduct, the You Have Options program offers sexual violence survivors a safe and flexible platform for reporting.
Through the program, SOU in conjunction with the Ashland Police Department aims to increase reports of sexual assault so that offenders may be prosecuted and prevented from committing future offenses.
“If survivors are given more time than Title IX reporting generally allow, the outcomes for the survivor, the legal, and the conduct process are better,” states SOU’s Campus Report on Sexual Misconduct.
The same report shows a 106 percent increase in reported incidents of sexual misconduct since the program’s implementation in 2013.
The program is currently developing a national website designed to educate both survivors and law enforcement agencies about victim-centered reporting.
To find out more about reporting options or to schedule confidential advising, visit the Women’s Resource Center in Stevenson Union 102.