For UT student government campaigns, ending sexual assault on campus a priority

Click here to view this article on the Statesman – March 6, 2017

The University of Texas is holding a runoff for the 2017-2018 student body president and vice president election and, while the candidates have expressed different priorities, there is one platform point the two campaigns have in common— preventing sexual assault.

The most recent attack in or near campus was the sexual assault of a University of Texas student Saturday night. So far, no arrests have been made. University police said the victim did not know her attackers.

According to a 2015 survey among UT undergraduate students, 18.5 percent of women and 5 percent of men have reported being victim of sexual assault. The survey said the majority of such incidents go unreported.

UT juniors Isaiah Carter and Syndey O’Connell, with the Isaiah and Syndey campaign, with have said, “sexual assault and interpersonal violence can no longer be ignored. It’s real. We’ll continue to raise awareness, but we must also educate, program and extend campus resources to ensure our students are well-served.”

Carter and O’Connell plan to:

  • Create a mandatory one-day course for freshman about relationship violence, sexual violence and stalking.
  • Require all campus buildings to have signs that show various sexual assault resources for students, through partnering with Voices Against Violence, the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center and the UT Title IX office.
  • Raise awareness and expand the Interpersonal Violence Peer Support Program, set to launch in Fall 2017.

The Alejandrina and Micky campaign, with senior Alejandrina Guzman and junior Micky Wolf, list addressing sexual assault under their third platform point, “Be the SolUTion”.

“Interpersonal violence prevention and awareness efforts are most impactful in the form of grass-root, student-led movements that have the university’s backing,” said the campaign on their website.

Alejandrina and Micky plan to:

Voting for the runoff is from Wednesday to Thursday. The student body president and vice president will have opportunities to work closely with university leaders and administrators to pursue their platform.

This year, UTPD has responded to two sexual assaults at UT. Both were reported at 2201 Robert Dedman Dr., one on Feb. 13 and the other on March 2.

According to UT’s 2016 annual safety report, 117 sexual assaults were reported from 2013 to 2015:

  • In 2015, 13 sexual assaults were reported on-campus, 11 at on-campus student housing, and 7 at non-campus buildings and public property, for a total of 31 cases.
  • In 2014, 20 sexual assaults were reported on-campus, 6 at on-campus student housing, and 31 at non-campus buildings and public property, for a total of 57 cases.
  • In 2013, 8 sexual assaults were reported on-campus, 8 at on-campus student housing, and 13 at non-campus building a public property, for a total of 29 cases.

UTPD has advice on its website for rape prevention and personal safety. The university allows sexual assaults to be reported online, in person, or over the phone and encourages promptly reporting incidents. The online reporting form can be accessed here.

There is also the Austin Police Department  and the Austin 3-1-1 app for reporting crimes. Both are free and available for Apple of Android devices.

 

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