Administration seeks to thoughtfully acknowledge sexual assault allegations

Students are encouraged to disclose their traumatic personal scenarios for authority figures to handle

Instances of sexual assault on or off campus warrant GBHS administrators to ake a serious look at these allegations and handle them effectively in the manner they see best fit for the situation at hand. The number of reports or harassment and assault are up at Granite Bay High.

GBT.org illustration/ASHLEY YUNG

Instances of sexual assault on or off campus warrant GBHS administrators to ake a serious look at these allegations and handle them effectively in the manner they see best fit for the situation at hand. The number of reports or harassment and assault are up at Granite Bay High.

By Piper Bacon, Granite Bay High School

In this era of awareness, more women have taken a stance against sexual assault and raising awareness.

They’ve been fighting for change, and the change they’ve been pushing for has begun to push through into their daily lives.

This is being shown in all forms of culture throughout the country, spanning from cancel culture to school  administrators rising up to help young girls in various cases of assault and harassment.

Locally, Granite Bay High administrators have seen a rise in students coming forward about sexual assault, allowing them to step in and begin helping young women.

This begs the question of how school administrators go about dealing with cases of sexual assault that are brought to their attention.

Assistant principal Jennifer Buschmann makes sure the process is thorough and fair.

The process of assessing a claim of sexual assault or harassment cannot begin, of course, without a student coming forward about the occurrance.

“(The student) should always report it in whatever way they feel comfortable,” Buschmann said.

Students are given many options, be it in person or through an email, and even through a few alternative options.

Buschmann has seen several assault allegations reported through the GBHS online anti-bullying form, which isn’t limited to specifically reports of bullying.

She also recommends involving the police if the assault happened off-campus.

The important thing for victims seeking help with their situation is that if administrators don’t know anything, there is no way they can help at all.

While Buschmann said the administration actively wants to help the best it can, each case of assault is different from the next – there is no black-and-white way to determine the severity of the assault.

Therefore, the GBHS administration handles each case accordingly.

The only real guarantee is that the police are always involved.

“If (the assault) happened off-campus, then we typically work with whatever law enforcement is in charge of that specific area,” Buschmann said. “If that process hasn’t been started yet, then we involve our resource officer.”

If (the assault) happened off-campus, then we typically work with whatever law enforcement is in charge of that specific area.”

— Jennifer Buschmann

GBHS administrators follow up on assault and harassment reports with a protocol known as the Title IX procedures.

These procedures, according to the United States Department of Education, make sure that no matter what, any public school is required to follow up on any allegations of sexual assault and harassment and make sure it is taken care of and ended immediately.

“Under Title IX, even if the police are dealing with (the sexual assault allegation), we follow up,” Buschmann said.

GBHS administrators, as required by Title IX, run their own investigation, making a decision of how to proceed according to their best judgment.

“We try to find out how the students interact on campus,” Buschmann said.

The main goal of the investigations, according to Buschmann, is to make sure that everyone is safe on campus.

They’re looking to see that each student involved in the allegation is getting the support they need.

The gray area within Title IX procedures comes down to the administrator’s discretion of the situation, and whether or not everything is presented as it seems.

“Each circumstance is different,” Buschmann said, “so it’s difficult to speak broadly.”

This discretion leaves some students a bit upset over whether or not the administration is really doing their job.

One student, who requested to remain anonymous, spoke out about filing for a case of sexual assault, only to be made to sit and wait for an answer.

This left the student confused, and angry.

“I was told that if anything came out of the investigation, that I would be informed,” the student said, “and that’s where the case sat. For three months.”

According to Buschmann, the  administration did resolve the complaint – the conclusion was that the incident was a misunderstanding and that proper action was taken.

“Sometimes, it’s not that cut and dry,” Buschmann said. “There are all sorts of different shades, and that’s the hard part of this job.”

Buschmann said the administration encourages students to come out with any allegations on assault and harassment because staying silent is more dangerous than speaking out.

Students who have been victimized aren’t alone – many of their peers at GBHS are willing to help and will be there with them through such a difficult process.

“If anybody’s assaulted, they should step up and trust that their administration can do something about it and trust that they’ll keep them safe,” senior Amanda Batiste said. “You want to feel safe at your school, and you should feel safe at your school.”

Batiste recognizes the difficulty of standing up.

“It’s easier said than done,” Batiste said.

With that in mind, students should know administrators are not against them.

The adults at GBHS are not dismissing them.

They’re not alienating them and accusing them of being dramatic – they recognize that their students’ struggles are just as serious as their own.

Administrators like Buschmann work hard to make sure students feel safe on campus, and they sympathize the best they can.

“As a woman, I’m looking at (the allegations) with a microscope,” Buschmann said. “If I were in the victims shoes, how would I have felt?”

This story was originally published on GraniteBayToday.org on March 13, 2020.