By: Olivia McKelvey and Emily Walker
Five female undergraduate students said they were sexually assaulted between 2017 and 2018 and all reported their sexual assaults through various departments at Florida Tech. While their statistics have now been corrected in the 2019 Annual Security and Fire Safety reports, they expressed concerns relating to the process of reporting sexual assault on campus and how survivors are treated.
“I feel better now that my rape is a recognized statistic,” said Nicole Farnsworth, a former Florida Tech student who reported her rape in 2018.
Farnsworth said that as a rape survivor, she felt Florida Tech did not provide her the adequate resources in areas such as counseling and Title IX services.
Other survivors also cited issues within Security, the Student Life Office and Greek Life.
Four out of the five rape survivors sought help at Florida Tech’s Counseling and Psychological Services. The four survivors all said they felt as though CAPS was not properly trained to help victims of sexual assault.
Dr. Robyn Tapley, director of CAPS, noted that there are three licensed psychologists on staff and five students in doctoral practices that also see patients.
When these victims of sexual assault sought help at CAPS, they said they felt as though the discussions they had with their counselors—who are confidential reporters and not mandated to report rape unless there are signs of child or elder abuse—were irrelevant and not helpful.
“We ended up talking about my family,” said one rape survivor. “I just wanted to understand what was happening,” she said.
Farnsworth said that she experienced something similar.
“After a few sessions at CAPS, it just got so repetitive and redundant to the point where I felt like it wasn’t helping,” Farnsworth said.
Tapley explained that victims of sexual assault are treated the same as other patients in terms of gathering information.
“That first appointment is helpful for establishing goals and providing coping mechanisms on a very individualized patient-by-patient basis,” Tapley said.
Another issue that the survivors spoke of referred to a generalized treatment plan of “blanket coping mechanisms.”
“It should not be one shoe fits all,” said one rape survivor.
Another survivor of rape stated that she went to CAPS multiple times, but later stopped going.
“I don’t put blame on the therapist, I just think there are things at CAPS that can and should be improved,” she said.
One student who said she was raped in 2017 initially reported to Title IX in 2018 and had a disciplinary hearing seven months later.
When she reported her rape to two security officers, she said she was asked questions about what she was wearing and if she was drinking alcohol the night that her rape occurred.
“Especially during my hearing, the fact that I was drinking was constantly brought up,” she said. “It was degrading to my character to hear that over and over again.”
Erin Robinson, the press secretary for RAINN—the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network—explained that depending on how the victim interprets them, questions regarding what the victim was wearing and whether or not they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs is potentially re-traumatizing.
“That type of language does not suggest that the survivor will have a greater level of comfort talking about what happened to them, or make the reporting process any easier,” Robinson said.
Frank Iannone, director of security at Florida Tech, said it is not typical for these questions to be asked during an investigation of a rape.
“To my knowledge, no security officers have asked those types of questions,” Iannone said.
Iannone has been director of security at Florida Tech since the spring of 2019. He was not working at the university during the time in which all reported rapes mentioned by the above students took place.
Two women who reported their rapes in 2017 stated that they had positive interactions with the Title IX coordinator at the time, Joni Oglesby.
“She made me feel comfortable and made me aware of all my options,” said one rape survivor.
Oglesby left the university in 2018, and Linda Jancheson took her place that February. As of January 2020, Jancheson has been removed from the position of Title IX coordinator.
“I won’t believe for a second that Linda Jancheson received proper training,” said one student who reported being raped in her dorm in 2018. “I was handed some generic papers and told to be on my way.”
In August of 2019, Jancheson told The Crimson that she specifically had a Title IX certificate, but was unsure if it was mandatory, deeming it “helpful.”
“The most important thing is that I’m up-to-date on any federal regulations or laws in compliance with Title IX,” Jancheson said.
Another rape survivor said she had a positive experience with Jancheson.
“She even helped me avoid running into my rapist by giving me security clearance to the back door of the building I had classes in and where my rapist also worked as a student employee,” she said.
In the time since Jancheson was removed from the position of Title IX coordinator, she has not commented despite multiple efforts made by The Crimson.
Office of Student Life
One student who said she was sexually assaulted in 2017 went to Cat Nanney, director of student involvement, and Dean of Students Rodney Bowers for help.
“The guy that sexually assaulted me was a brother from PIKE [Pi Kappa Alpha],” she said.
She added that she went to Nanney and Bowers to see if there was anything they could do, whether it be kicking him out of the fraternity or providing other consequences.
“Both of them told me there was nothing they could do,” she said. “I was told that they have no control over chapter membership and that was it.”
According to Nanney, if a student comes to her with a report of sexual assault in Greek Life, it is dealt with on a student basis, not a fraternity basis.
“I can’t hold the entire chapter accountable for one particular member,” Nanney said.
Nanney also added that in the past she has gone directly to the fraternity national headquarters to notify them of the particular sexual assault report.
Bowers also stated that he cannot remove members from Greek Life. As a mandated reporter, he must report cases of sexual assault to campus security and let them carry out their investigation.
“Temporary measures” are an option that Bowers also mentioned. Referred to as interim measures in Florida Tech’s Title IX policy, such actions include access to counseling or mental health services, an order of no contact, residence hall relocation, adjustment of course schedules or work-study employment, a leave of absence, transportation arrangements or reassignment to a different supervisor or position.
Bowers said he “could not recall” if any “temporary measures” had been taken in the past three years.
Nanney said that she has not had to take any “temporary measures” within the past three years because those types of sexual assault reports have been passed onto the fraternity’s national organization for further review.
The student who said she was sexually assaulted by a member of Pi Kappa Alpha later was black-listed from the fraternity house and was told it was because she “was a liability.”
Two of the five students who have come forward said they were sexually assaulted by two different members of Florida Tech’s Pi Kappa Alpha chapter in 2017.
President of Florida Tech’s Pi Kappa Alpha chapter, Robbie Fraser-Caris, sent The Crimson the following statement:
“If any allegations of sexual misconduct arise, the chapter leadership places the accused member on administrative suspension pending the outcome of an investigation by the university or related authorities. The chapter supports any person who may have experienced sexual misconduct in reporting it to the appropriate authorities and/or to seek counseling and other forms of support services provided by the university and local organizations. For Zeta Sigma Chapter, the care, safety and well-being of our members and guests remain our top priority.”
Fraser-Caris also emphasized that all members of Florida Tech’s Pi Kappa Alpha chapter have completed sexual assault prevention and intervention training and stated that “treating all persons with dignity and respect is critical” to the chapter.
Response from President McCay
Changes have been made at Florida Tech in light of the university under-reporting certain crimes such as sexual assault from 2016 through 2018. Women’s self-defense classes on campus have begun, student athletes have recently received their annual Title IX training and programs such as writing love letters to rape survivors have been organized by Florida’s Tech student life office.
In the faculty senate meeting held on Jan. 14, President T. Dwayne McCay discussed the Clery Act.
The faculty senate meeting minutes read: “McCay explained that there are lots of nuances when it comes to reporting.” He also said that there were six rapes within three years. He then “reiterated that all six cases involved alcohol, and all were between people that knew each other.”
In a phone call to The Crimson, McCay said he felt it was necessary at the senate meeting to discuss the risk of drinking.
“When you drink too heavily and become inebriated, it can lead to problems,” McCay said.
According to a 2007 campus sexual assault study published by the U.S. Department of Justice, alcohol consumption by the victim is a major risk factor for sexual assault.
“One’s decision to drink or not to drink does not give someone the right to rape,” Farnsworth said.
According to statistics published in the 2017 National Crime Victimization Survey conducted by the Department of Justice, eight out of 10 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim.
“You know rape to be violent and aggressive from what we were taught or what was shown on TV, when in reality that is not always the case,” one Florida Tech rape survivor said.
“I wanted to dismiss any fears that some may think we have rapists running around on campus,” McCay told The Crimson.
He said he wanted to emphasize in the faculty senate meeting that Florida Tech is a safe campus and students’ safety is a top priority to him.
With the topic of sexual assault being dicussed at the faculty senate meeting and on the agenda for the upcoming town hall, McCay spoke of the nature of rape itself.
“Rape is horrifying, but murder is worse,” he said over the phone.
McCay then emphasized that this situation is being addressed and necessary measures are being taken to ensure campus safety.