St. Cloud State University’s title IX coordinator, Ellyn Bartges, spoke to student government members about mandated reporting and campus safety resources.
“There’s are the slew of things that we’ve done over the years to help eliminate those outside forces and make students feel safer on campus,” Bartges said.
Since the Title IX law changed in 2011, her department has handled about 1000 cases of reported sexual violence. The women’s center defines sexual violence as any of the following: sexual assault, rape, dating/domestic violence, and stalking. A confidential online reporting option is available for those who don’t feel comfortable talking face-to-face.
Bartges reminded Student Government members of the importance of being sensitive to trigger warnings.
“I spoke to the athletics department just last night and you find that when talking about this topic, people become upset. You’ve probably heard the term ‘trigger warning’ – any person who’s a victim of violence can be triggered, and it’s important to counsel them and direct them to those confidential resources. It’s important for people to get the help that they need.”
One senator asked Bartges what the process is if a student was sitting in the student union and overheard someone talking about how someone was stalking them again.
“In an instance like that you don’t have enough information to report on, so in a non-invasive way you can ask, ‘I couldn’t help but overhear, not enough to fully understand, but it’s concerning to me and here’s some confidential resources to help you in reporting that behavior,” she answered.
Another senator expressed concern about student safety on campus during the night where lighting isn’t always the best in certain areas. These areas are left mostly dark due to a lack of lamp light and are a potential safety hazard to unsuspecting students. Bartges told them that the lighting on campus is “actually a lot better than it has been in recent years.”
“When the new director of public safety came in about six years ago, lighting was one of those concerns that he looked at first, as well as the number of blue boxes on campus,” Bartges said.
She did acknowledge that lighting is still a slightly controversial topic since the university is located so close to the Mississipi river and is a huge flyway for migratory birds.
“For a couple thousand miles you literally have a river that comes up and affects migratory patterns. The university prides itself on being mindful of those environmental concerns, but also keeping student’s safety as a first priority.”
The Women’s Center advocates for all women on campus, and they offer a wide variety of services that address women’s issues on campus. Bartges works in conjunction with the women’s center as the title IX coordinator. The center also promotes the Safe St. Cloud app which can track your location and alert others to where you are. The app is designed to allow the user to contact emergency services should they need to in a moment’s notice. An ideal feature to have for students who have a long way to walk to their dorm or apartment.
The Women’s Center address is 720 Fourth Ave. S., St. Cloud, MN 56301 and their phone number is (320) 308-4958.
Mitch Abraham is a senior finishing his final semester in SCSU’s Mass Communications program. He currently serves as news section editor for the University Chronicle and also enjoys writing short fiction stories in his spare time. When he’s not writing, he likes to fish recreationally and hang out with friends and family.