Despite a deceptively low number of officially reported incidents, sexual assault has become a pressing topic on campus.
The ripples of the problem can be seen all throughout the semester. Before the semester began, students had to take an online course that educated them about the nature of consent and sexual assault.
Students may have also received texts regarding ongoing developments concerning a campus sexual assault case. Lastly, Rebels Against Sexual Assault can often be found hosting events on campus to educate students and provide a support group.
Since the beginning of the semester, the number of reported sex offenses has risen to five. However, this might not be indicative of more incidents happening.
Instead, some think that this rise in reports has more to do with a greater abundance of sex education on campus and a destigmatization of victims.
Unfortunately, even with more people feeling safe to report their experiences, University Police Department Chief Tim A. Potts said many more assaults have likely taken place behind closed doors.
“Many of these events that take place are inside student housing,” Potts said, “places where the police don’t go and respond.”
Out of the five sex offenses reported, three were sexual batteries inside a Greek house.
“They [the Greek houses] were in compliance with everything that they were asked to do,” Potts said, “be it security and limiting access to private rooms. Because they did that, they might have prevented a sexual assault or rape from taking place.”
In order to further help students in social situations such as parties, the UPD has joined with RASA to improve their notice system so they can give more helpful tips and reach more students.
“If someone tries to give you an open drink,” Potts said, “I don’t care if you know who it is; don’t accept it.”
Another system in place to ensure student safety is the LiveSafe app, which can let friends watch each other walk via GPS and can put a student in contact with the UPD if they feel unsafe.
“Let someone know what your plans are,” Potts said. “Use the app and have someone walk with you so they see where you are. If you don’t arrive in time, they will also be alerted.”
Potts said the best course of action is to look at the current systems and always see what can be improved.
“Being a parent myself,” Potts said, “it’s about safety. If they need help or medical attention, let’s get them help and medical attention.”