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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Reports of sexual assault on UA campus spike

Reported sex crimes at the UA more than doubled between 2011 and 2012. The sharp increase is likely due to increased awareness from various programs.

In 2011, there were three reported forcible sex offenses at the UA, but in 2012, that number grew to 13, according to the U.S. Department of Education. However, the 2013 campus safety report lists four forcible sex offenses in 2011 and nine in 2012.

“I believe that the increase in reports is due in large part to our campuswide education efforts,” said Susan Wilson, the UA’s Title IX investigator.

Wilson said Title IX prohibits sex and gender-based discrimination against students, which includes sexual assaults and harassment.

“We encourage reporting and we have strengthened our Title IX outreach, prevention and response efforts to ensure that students have information about reporting options and resources,” said Mary Beth Tucker, director of the Office of Institutional Equity.

According to Tucker, these efforts include the development of a new Title IX website that consolidates information in one area, creation of educational materials for students such as posters and related printed materials, widespread publication of information on complaint filing, in-depth staff training and the engagement of an online training vendor to provide Title IX training to all incoming undergraduate students.

“It is a good thing that the number of reports has increased, because it means that more people are coming forward,” said Megan McKendry, the violence prevention specialist for the Oasis Program.
The Oasis Program provides services to UA students, staff and faculty who are impacted by sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking and facilitates confidential reporting.

“Oasis and other departments on campus are committed to educating students about services and reporting options,” McKendry said. “Naturally, as people’s awareness grows, the number of reports also goes up.”

She said it is possible increased media coverage has contributed to people’s awareness about sexual assault on campus and led to a rise in reports, but that sexual assault is the most underreported crime on college campuses across the country.

Hannah Lozon, acting program director of the Women’s Resource Center, said there are many reasons victims are hesitant to report sex crimes.

“There is a lot of stigma and a lot of shame around sexual violence,” Lozon said. “I think from a psychological perspective there’s so much shock that people don’t even know what to do.”

Lozon said that although the university tries to spread information to its students, there are still people who don’t know how to report sexual violence.

“Sexual assault is a terrible crime that is never okay, and we strive to create an environment in which survivors of sexual assault feel comfortable coming forward,” McKendry said. “We care deeply about survivors at the UA and want to do everything in our power to help.”

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