Spring Hill College President Dr. Joseph Lee II announced new initiatives against sexual assault after a student reported being sexually assaulted on campus by another student on March 12.
On March 24, the student publicly announced the incident on Facebook. She wrote that she was raped by another student in her residence hall on the morning of March 12. In the same post she stated that in response to sharing her story, she had received copious messages from Spring Hill College alumni who detailed similar experiences of sexual assault on campus. The Facebook post garnered attention across social media platforms, resulting in students and alumni drafting two petitions accusing the college of neglecting sexual assault victims that were sent to Dr. Lee the same day.
One of the petitions states that alumni “are woefully disappointed and angered by the administration’s lack of commitment and support of sexual assault victims.” According to RAINN, “13% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.” According to the SHC Department of Public Safety’s most recent security report, five forcible sex offenses were reported on the campus in 2019, and none were reported in 2018. Six were reported in 2017. The petition acknowledges these numbers, but asserts that the number of students who have experienced sexual assault on campus is far higher.
Dr. Lee sent out a response to both petitions on March 26. He states that both petitions “are elevating key areas that we all agree have to be taken seriously and have to move into action.” He writes that the Spring Hill College community members “live by a mandate of zero tolerance for violence” on campus. The actions Dr. Lee details in this letter are as follows:
“Activate a Spring Hill College coordinated community response team (CCRT). This is a student-focused initiative to help eliminate sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. This team will include members of the College’s Counseling Center staff, Students, Student Affairs, Faculty, Athletics, Spring Hill College Public Safety, representatives from Lifelines Counseling Services and representatives from the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office.
Reestablish the Spring Hill College Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), focused on victim advocacy.
Conduct an audit of the locking systems in the residence halls, with action taken as needed.
Increase and elevate training focused on sexual assault awareness and intervention across the campus.
Submit an annual report to Faculty Executive Assembly, Staff Assembly and Student Government on campus-wide training efforts, numbers of cases and results from an annual Campus Climate Survey.
Hire a dedicated Program Director to lead these actions.”
On March 27, Spring Hill College along with multiple other agencies hosted “Take Back the Night” on Rydex Commons at 4 p.m. Students, alumni, faculty and staff held candles in solidarity as sexual assault survivors spoke about their experiences and demanded that everyone stand against sexual assault and violence.
For additional coverage on this story, watch the upcoming episode of Spring Hill Now on Badger Television.
Dr. Lee’s email directed students who have experienced a sexual assault to the SHC Wellness Center (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mobile-area resource Lifelines Counseling at: https://www.lifelinesmobile.org/crisis-services/rape-crisis-center/.