St. Norbert assault victim shares story at rally for change

    Students, faculty, and staff gather at St. Norbert College to request improved support for sexual assault victims on October 11, 2018. (WLUK)

    DE PERE, Wis. (WLUK) -- Students, faculty, and staff at St. Norbert College gathered Thursday evening to request continued improvement in helping sexual assault victims.

    As FOX 11 reported last week, students and staff recently wrote letters to St. Norbert College President Brian Bruess stating more needs to be done.

    In front of about 50 of her peers and professors, St. Norbert College senior Paige Bonner shared that she was raped in her dorm room last spring.

    “When in such a vulnerable state, I needed my college to be there for me, to listen to me and to support me,” said Bonner. “Instead, I was misinformed and laughed at.”

    Bonner says a call to the health and wellness center led to a 20-minute session with a campus counselor. She says the counselor questioned her truthfulness and laughed at her inability to recall details of what happened.

    “While my assault disgusts me to my very core, I want to emphasis how the response from the college hurt me more than my assault itself,” said Bonner.

    Other stories, similar to Bonner's, and recent national news, including the #MeToo movement, brought students together for the rally.

    “We're not out to protest or work against administration, we just want to make sure the people in power at St. Norbert are continued to be held accountable to keep making changes,” said Anna Huck, a senior at St. Norbert.

    More than a dozen staff members joined the students.

    “I think they see us here as supportive individuals and they feel a sense of solidarity and protection,” said Anna Herrman, an associate professor of communication.

    Bruess also made an appearance, listening to Bonner share her story. He says he also met with her last week.

    “I was really impressed with her not only sharing her story, but the remarkable number of ideas she has, ways we can refine what we're doing,” said Bruess.

    “There have been steps taken and no student here can deny that,” said Huck. “We just want to continue to make sure that steps are taken.”

    Students say they'd still like to see improved transparency in the reporting process and increased support for assault survivors.

    As for Bonner, she says she never went to the police about her assault. She says she believes the person who assaulted her made a bad decision, and she feared reporting the incident would ruin his life.

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