Tuesday, October 3

National study on sexual assault puts spotlight on college campuses

By Christy Ulmet

Though a new national study reports that one in five American women are sexually assaulted while in college, there are no official reports of a sexual assault in Trevecca’s crime records which go back 17 years.

Steve Harris, associate provost and dean of student development, said a student did report a sexual assault and file criminal charges sometime in the early 2000s, but charges were dropped in court.

“Anything that goes on in the broader world, and even in the Nashville community, can happen here. Just because we’re a Christian college doesn’t mean we’re immune from that. Whatever is happening around us is still a threat here,” Harris said.

The White House last month released a report called “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action” that states that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted while in college, but only 12 percent of victims of sexual assault ever report the case.  The report also states that 22 million women have been raped in their lifetime.

The report from the White House’s Council on Women and Girls shoved the issue into the national spotlight. President Barack Obama announced the formation of a task force that would help colleges and universities prevent and respond to sexual assault reports.

The United States Department of Justice defines sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” Trevecca’s crime report categories follow this definition.

“Trevecca has not had any officially reported sexual assault or rape cases in at least 17 years,” said Norm Robinson, director of University Security. “Trevecca’s crime reports only go back to 1997.”

The university has several intentional safety measures in place to help guard against such assaults.

Jessica Dykes, resident director for Johnson Hall, said there are several safety measures are in place for the residence halls.

Night resident assistants sit in dorm lobbies from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. At midnight, all doors are locked and students have to be let in by the resident assistants. Resident assistants in the apartments monitor open apartment times when members of the opposite gender are visiting. There is also a third-party rule which requires there to be at least three people present during open apartment times.

RAs also try to serve as confidants to students.

“We as resident directors and resident assistants try to be available for students to come talk to us about these situations,” Dykes said.

Perhaps one of the biggest factors in the low report rate at Trevecca is that no alcohol is allowed on campus, officials said.

The report released by the White House noted that incidences of rape and sexual assault on college campuses are often fueled by drinking and drug use that can incapacitate victims.

Jennifer Neely, coordinator of sophomore year programs, said that this may be why Trevecca has not had any reported occurrences in the past.

“Taking in alcohol can affect how students behave and what decisions they make. We take precautions at our school to protect our students. We don’t allow alcohol on campus, and alcohol plays a big role in sexual assault situations,” Neely said.

Keeping Trevecca an alcohol-free campus diminishes the possibility of sexual assault or rape to nearly nothing, Harris said.

Trevecca’s sexual harassment policy outlines procedures for filing a complaint against another student or employee.

Quick Stats:

1 in 5 women has been sexually assaulted while in college.

Of that number, only 12 percent have reported the attacks.

22 million women have been raped in their lifetimes.

1.6 million men have been raped in their lifetimes.

98 percent of perpetrators are male.

Source: White House Council on Women

Resources for victims of sexual assault on campus:

Report all incidents to Student Development officials

Go to the counseling center

Talk to residence life staff

Call the Sexual Assault Center for Counseling at Education’s 24/7 crisis line at 1-800-879-1999

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