Purdue updates policy, offers online advice on sexual violence

April 2, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University has rolled out a new website offering advice for individuals who believe they have been sexually assaulted and outlining the university's role and responsibilities in helping them.

The university also has updated its anti-harassment policy to make it explicit that it covers acts of sexual violence and sexual exploitation.

The revisions began last summer based on guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and involved input by three offices: Vice President for Student Affairs, the Women's Resource Network and the Vice President for Ethics and Compliance.

"The website addresses some misconceptions," said Alysa Rollock, vice president for ethics and compliance and Purdue's Title IX officer. "For example, some are unaware that a person cannot consent to sexual activity if he or she is incapacitated, intimidated or helpless. Consent is also absent when the activity exceeds the scope of consent previously provided. Sexual assault also can occur regardless of a couple's relationship status or whether they are of the same sex."

Students who believe they have experienced an act of sexual violence are strongly encouraged to report the incident to police and seek assistance, said Danita Brown, dean of students. In addition to counselors in her office, other confidential assistance is available through Purdue's Student Health Center and Counseling and Psychological Services and local hospitals. The YWCA and Lafayette Crisis Center also can help.

"Purdue students are eligible to receive university support regardless of whether or not they choose to be involved in any subsequent criminal, civil or university disciplinary proceedings," Brown said.

Wherever an individual turns for assistance, however, he or she should know that time is important.

"It is never too late to seek medical care after an assault, although the opportunity to recover some physical evidence decreases with time," Brown said.

Individuals who go to the Purdue Student Health Center or area hospitals can expect a sexual assault nurse examiner to be available to evaluate and treat any injuries and test for the possibility of pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infections. Individuals are advised not to douche, bathe, shower, brush their teeth, use the toilet or change clothes before the exam. If changed, the clothing worn at the time of the assault should be brought to the exam.

Writer: Jeanne Norberg, 765-494-2084; jnorberg@purdue.edu

Sources:  Alysa Rollock, 765-494-5830, acrollock@purdue.edu
                   Danita Brown, 765-494-1239, dmbrown@purdue.edu