Campus urged to report all acts of sexual assault

by Molly Crain
News Editor

Currently at Transylvania University, no instances of sexual assault crimes have been reported in several years.

At first, this may seem to be a positive statistic.

Instead, some key members of the Transy community believe that it presents Transy with the reality that something is missing in comparison with the national average. According to the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center, estimates suggest that only one rape is reported for every 10 that occur.

Understanding the discrepancies, faculty members and students have been making efforts to gather a statistic that is closer to the truth.

An emphasis on reporting every sexual assault has been months in the making, especially since a “Dear Colleague” letter was sent out to federally funded institutions by the U.S. Department of Education in April.

Challenging universities to participate in proper reporting of crime and assault cases, the letter reiterated a required compliance with the Clery Act, a Title IX law named after a 19-year-old student who was raped and murdered at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania in 1986.

“The issue isn’t what’s new,” said Dr. Ellen Cox, associate professor of philosophy and delegate for sexual assault reporting on campus. “What is new is the attention that federal laws are beginning to pay … to it.”

“I’d like to see the number go up,” said Cox, referring to the number of sexual assault cases reported. “Even though it’s hard to look at the numbers, I’d rather see numbers that accurately reflect what’s happening to our students. It will be interesting to see whether or not there will be a significant change to that information.”

“Sexual assault does happen on this campus,” said senior Lindsey Jagoe, member of SAGE, Sexual Awareness and Gender Education. “I think that the problem is that the student doesn’t know the process for reporting sexual assault, or they don’t feel comfortable doing so.”

That is why this month, SAGE will be sending out green folders to all faculty and staff on campus. The folders will serve as instruction on how to “help students in need,” said Dr. Carole Barnsley, co-leader of SAGE and assistant professor of religion.

“We aren’t asking (faculty and staff) to be experts in mental health, or sexual assault,” said Barnsley. “The folder can help facilitate conversation for those in need.”

SAGE has printed out 400 folders so that every faculty and staff member will have them in hand.

“(We have) thought about adapting it for RAs (resident advisers), Greek officers, SOLs (student orientation leaders), any student next year with leadership,” said Barnsley.

Director of Greek Life Amy Jo Gabel, who has been working directly with SAGE to encourage sexual assault reporting on campus, has been looking to see what other universities have been doing for sexual assault education during student orientation.

Gabel will soon introduce Green Dot, a violence prevention program that engages the bystander, according to Gabel. She also announced that the program’s website will launch this week.

The website, which will be available through a hyperlink on Inside Transy, will serve as a confidential outlet for students to report both positive (“green”) and negative (“red”) events that happen at any specific location on campus, which will be represented by an interactive map, detailed Gabel.

“The ultimate goal is to lessen the assaults; on your way to that, your perceived knowledge of incidents must go up. We are not afraid; we would love to see reports go up,” said Barnsley. “We believe, with more awareness, that this is a climate of care.”

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