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Bethel prioritizes safe campus for students, faculty, staff

November 12th, 2019

Bethel banner and Krehbiel Science Center

Bethel College's director of institutional communications and marketing has released a statement about efforts to address sexual violence on campus along with available resources.

Dear Bethel community,

Bethel College was founded in 1887 by those who believed the Word of Jesus Christ. As an institution rooted in Christian theology, we do not tolerate sexual violence in any form. We are here to be active listeners to survivors, to remind them of resources on campus and to assist survivors on their healing journey. We believe in the victims of sexual violence.

When high-profile sexual assault cases are in the news, survivors come forward. We are supportive and grateful for the voices of victims of sexual violence speaking up. Victims have spent years in silence and are now empowered to speak out. Bethel is pausing and listening. There are no acceptable levels in abuse and we recognize the pain all sexual violence victims experience. We are here to foster a culture of respect and safety for survivors of sexual violence. 

Bethel is growing, along with many institutions, and it can seem like a slow process. However, the security and wellbeing of Bethel students, faculty and staff is our highest priority. While we know there is always work to be done, Bethel is proud to offer the following:

1) Bethel has an “affirmative consent” policy. It is available in the Student Handbook, which is on the Title IX section of our website. Affirmative Consent: Consent is clear permission (“Yes”). Consent to one form of sexual activity should not, and cannot, be taken as consent to any other sexual activity. Consent cannot be inferred. Individuals who consent to sexual activity must be able to fully understand their actions. A person incapacitated by alcohol or drugs, asleep, physically impaired or unable to communicate in clear and understandable words or actions is incapable of giving consent or mutual agreement. 

2) Bethel has an on-campus counselor, Jill Hoopes, director of student wellness.

3) Bethel has an on-campus Title IX coordinator, Bethany Charlsen.

4) Bethel hosts Safehope on campus every week for one-on-one support, Tuesdays from noon-2 p.m. Safehope is the domestic violence/sexual assault advocacy center for Harvey County.

5) Wesley Medical Center and St. Joseph in Wichita both have nurses trained in SANE/SART (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner/Sexual Assault Response Team) and are located only 30 minutes from Bethel.

6) We had two students attend a “Train the Trainer” session last year. Since then, four additional students have been trained to facilitate "Bringing in the Bystander." Altogether, 220 students have received the "Bringing in the Bystander" training since its implementation. We will review new student facilitators in the spring to prepare for graduation of current facilitators.

7) Bethel will hold three separate listening sessions for students to express their concern regarding sexual violence and on-campus safety. The administration is here to listen and will continue to reevaluate current policies in place. 

We ensure that all students, regardless of gender identity and expression, have equal access to education. Within guidelines of Title IX, we respond to all reports of sexual violence. This is not a replacement for reporting to the police; it is a parallel option for survivors based in civil rights – rather than criminal – law. Bethel takes up every report for adjudication and responds according to the victim’s wishes. We understand that in the past there were fewer avenues for reporting on-campus sexual violence. With the implementation of Title IX in 2014, we are seeing more students feeling a sense of safety to report sexual violence. And with that, Bethel is striving to handle each case with sensitivity and to take action swiftly to ensure a safe campus. We are able to handle survivors’ needs and focus on the victim and to make sure they have everything they need in order to continue their education.

Bethel College is in compliance with both Title IX and Clery Act guidelines, as determined by a recent visit from the Higher Learning Commission (our accrediting agency). We meet or exceed what is required by federal law. As we look to ourselves to be leaders in helping end sexual violence, we believe there is always room for improvement. We will continue to move forward.

Sharing an experience of sexual assault can be really hard, especially if it’s for the first time. If you have been a victim of sexual violence, please know Bethel is here to support you and be a healing resource for justice and safety.

Please contact 

Bethany Charlsen, Title IX coordinator: 316-284-5325, bcharlsen@bethelks.edu

North Newton Police Department: 316-283-3191

If you are in need of support or advocacy, these resources are confidential and separate from Bethel’s Title IX process:

Jill Hoopes, director of student wellness: 316-284-5326, jhoopes@bethelks.edu (for students)

Peter Goerzen, campus pastor: 316-284-5356, pgoerzen@bethelks.edu (for students)

Safehope 24-hour hotline: 316-283-0350 (for community members and students)

Prairie View Mental Health Services 24-hour hotline: 1-800-362-0180 (for community members and students)

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.