Friday, December 1, 2023

“Assume that it’s in your backyard because it is”: The university’s fight against gender violence

NewsCampus News“Assume that it’s in your backyard because it is”: The university’s fight against gender violence

Staff Reporter

University student Joshua McCary is facing criminal charges following an incident in which he attempted to strangle and confine a female student in his dorm room.

The incident, which occurred on July 10, took place in the Ray Street Complex, an on-campus dormitory. The police identified McCary, a 23-year-old undergraduate student, as the defendant.

Both McCary and the victim, a female undergraduate student whose name has been withheld to protect her identity, required medical attention after what university officials described as an instance of “dating violence.” Dating violence is defined by the United States Department of Justice as “violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim.”

“Domestic violence has very specific patterns, no matter how many millions of people it happens to,” Angie Hattery, a professor of women and gender studies and co-director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Gender-Based Violence, said. “It follows a set number of patterns, and this case seemed clear to me in that regard.”

Despite the injuries sustained by both parties, only the victim received hospital treatment.

Initially, both parties were taken into police custody and charged with third-degree assault, but continued UDPD investigations led to the “dismissal of the charge against the woman and expanded charges for McCary,” university officials told the Newark Post in July.

McCary has been charged with strangulation, unlawful imprisonment and aggravated menacing. He is currently in jail awaiting trial.

University officials stated that McCary has been “separated from the university” and is banned from campus. The university declined to provide further comment or information when contacted by The Review.

“I think it says that UD is no different than anyplace else because gender-based violence happens everywhere,” Hattery said. “But at the same time, I don’t want that to sound like, ‘Oh, whatever.’ It also deeply saddens me because it means that people in our community are harmed.”

The incident is not the first time gender-based violence has occurred on campus in recent years. In the fall of 2021, the university received national media attention when then-sophomore student Brandon Freyre was charged with the kidnapping, assault and strangulation of a female student.

After it took six days for the administration to deliver a statement to students, the incident sparked demonstrations and demands for action throughout campus.

Now, the university is taking steps in an attempt to prevent further incidents of rape or sexual assault.

“There’s a fair amount of good research that suggests that prevention education that is delivered in a more comprehensive, multiple-touches way is much more effective,” Hattery said. “We are advocating pretty fiercely in our center for UD to adopt a more comprehensive, multiple-touch [educational] model.”

With this model advocating for “additional prevention moments that happen across at least the first year, if not into the second year,” Hattery believes that there would be fewer on-campus incidents of severe gender-based violence.

However, Hattery also encouraged students to take personal steps to educate themselves on the issue.

“I teach a course every semester called Women and Violence, and the whole point of the class is to learn about gender-based violence,” Hattery said. “If you can’t get in the class, hopefully one of your friends does.”

Additionally, she advised that men hold each other accountable and engage with examples of “healthy masculinity,” giving the Barbie movie as a notable pop culture example.

Hattery recommended that any students interested in taking preventative measures in their personal lives to attend a conference being held on Sept. 28 and 29 by the Center for the Study and Prevention of Gender-Based Violence.

“Don’t be afraid to talk to each other,” Hattery said. “Don’t silence it. Do assume that it’s in your backyard because it is. It’s happening in every community on the planet, so assume that, and figure out how you can better be prepared for it and speak up.”




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