Sexual assault crimes largely unreported at Morgan

Many students are not aware of how to approach reporting a sexual assault incident anonymously.

Giodona Campbell, Staff Writer

According to a poll run on the Spokeman’s Instagram page, 91 percent of students at Morgan State University do not know how to report sexual assault on campus anonymously.

“The problem, and what introduces anonymity, is that students don’t feel safe enough. Like ‘What would happen afterwards? I already feel ashamed,’” Yasmine Bryant said. Bryant is a junior sociology student and founder of Students Against Sexual Harassment and Assault (S.A.S.H.A.)

Bryant said the methods and measures provided for students to be able to report their experiences whilst remaining anonymous are not shared enough.

Sexual assault allegations are misconstrued, especially on college campuses, due to false controversies. Additionally, victims’ of sexual assault are often feels fear or guilt because their traumatic experiences. Due to these reasons, sexual assault crimes are underreported at HBCUs.

Morgan State’s Title XI department makes efforts to carefully review each allegation, especially incidents of sexual assault, and takes serious approaches to resolve the situation.

“If it [sexual assault] is underreported, the reasons for that may be different at an HBCU than a PWI,” Title XI Coordinator Tara Berrien said.

“The difference you would see at a PWI is it could include some alcohol or some other drugs, and it may be underreported because of that aspect or because they just don’t want anyone to know what occurred.”

Berrien also mentioned that there could be some kinship between the individuals and either party wouldn’t want to get anyone into trouble.

Here’s a comparison of reported sexual assault crimes and dating violence between Morgan State University, and neighboring colleges Coppin State University and Towson University.


“There’s no allegation that has been brought before this office that will be overlooked,” Berrien said. “I don’t care who the alleged complainant is, that’s something that we can not do under federal and state law.”

Berrien said she can be approached in person or via email about complaints of sexual assault, or a note may be placed under heroffice door. She added that individuals would have to request to remain anonymous when they file the initial crime report so theproper courses of action can occur.

Berrien explained that the confrontation of an alleged assailant would have to be an approach of recalling the situation without mentioning the victim’s name and, by reasonable deduction, the individual would know who the victim is.

The legal actions that would be taken during an investigation would be different compared to a non-anonymous case because, according to Berrien, “it does limit what the university can respond to because we have to give the alleged respondent an opportunity to be heard and [receive] their due process as well.”

“When we do a formal report, both parties have the right to review the report and also review any documentation we may have such as text messages or videos…and they can make comments to that,” Berrien said.

In respects to a sexual assault crime, a formal investigation would be conducted by Baltimore City Police regardless of whether the incident happend on or off campus, because the degree of a sexual assault case is beyond the scope of MSUPD.

The anti-retaliation policy protects the anonymous victims if they feel their Title XI rights are being interfered with. Part of that investigation would include analyses of retaliation from the person being accused of the crime.

According to Morgan State University Sexual Harassment Procedures, “Retaliation may include intimidation, threats, coercion, harassment, and adverse employment or educational actions. The Notice of Rights and Responsibilities will include but are not limited to prohibition against retaliation and guidance about reporting any retaliatory conduct.”

“If someone comes and they want to be anonymous but they have this [sexual assault] experience, then I would, of course, do the supportive measures like no-contact order, any academic accommodations, any housing accommodations, counseling referrals,” Berrien said.

An informal resolution [mediation or counseling] has to be agreed to by all parties including me as a Title IX coordinator and it’s never going to be found appropriate if it’s alleging sexual assault,” she continued.

DeVal Kent, embedded counselor, is one of five licensed counselors in Morgan State’s counseling center who helps students with personal development.  

“We [the counseling center] are a trauma-informed care center and so it’s not really about ‘what’s wrong?’, it’s also about ‘what happened?’” Kent said.

He went on to say the counseling center collaborates with other departments on campus like The Office of Residence Life and Housing to spread awareness of counseling services.

“It is one of the things we [counselors] have to keep on the forefront of our minds to make sure that we preserve the student’s or the client’s confidentiality.”

Bryant said that panel seminars or conferences, especially hosted by the Student Government Association, should be held to inform the student body on how to report crimes anonymously and allow them the space to ask questions.

“If we [students] don’t do what we can and use our voices…take the initiative and be proactive to say ‘this is what we need, you protect and serve us and this is how you could do it.’ If we don’t do that, we won’t get the protection that we need,” Bryant said.