Capilouto talks sexual assault on campus, future prevention methods


File Photo by Eleanor Hasken l Staff

Will Wright

[email protected]

“Please tell us.”

This is the message President Eli Capilouto sent to students in a campus-wide email, advocating for students to report sexual assault to UK officials or police.

The email reminded students to take 20-25 minutes to fill out the Campus Attitudes Toward Safety survey.

Last year’s survey showed that one fourth of students do not feel safe on campus at night, and 5 percent of students experienced sexual assault. 

The survey shined a light on sexual assault and students’ reluctance to report sexual crimes.

Most assaults were not reported to officials or UK Police.

Representatives from the Student Government Association, along with Capilouto and UK Police Chief Joe Monroe, asked students in a video to tell someone if they are a victim of sexual assault, whether the crime happened on or off campus. 

In a Q and A conversation with Capilouto, he talked about the importance of the survey, and what kind of an impact it can have on students. 

Q: How do you think the data will change from the last survey? 

A: Reporting of these crimes will increase. That’s inevitable and necessary. As awareness increases, as stigmas are removed, those victimized will feel they have the freedom to come out of the shadows. That’s what we want.

We also, I think, will see a greater sense on campus that we are all in this together. It isn’t just the responsibility of the victim to report. It’s the responsibility of the brother, sister and classmate to help prevent the victimization from occurring in the first place. You receive bystander training. You watch out for each other. You realize you are part of something, and a community, larger than oneself.

Q: A lot of these crimes happen off campus. Do you think UK needs to have a better grasp of what goes on outside the boundaries of campus? 

A: Even though more students than ever before are living on campus, most students still live outside the campus boundaries. So, in that context, it’s not surprising that more crimes occur off campus. The more telling statistic, I think, is that most victims, in some way, know their assailant or are familiar with them.

That speaks, I think, to the need for all of us to be members of a caring community, where we look out for each other. Of course, it is always critical for there to be close cooperation between campus and community authorities, and that’s something we are always working on. 

We value that partnership, but education and awareness are more telling issues — and more important for us — than simply location.

Q: What was the impact of the CATS Survey? 

A: First, it underscored this university’s commitment to the safety of everyone, particularly our students. We were, in all likelihood, the first large public university in the country to conduct a mandatory, campus-wide climate survey.

We then made all of the results and findings public. We committed to this same process of examination and transparency for five years, because we know that we will continue to learn, refine and find ways to make our campus even safer.

Second, the survey in and of itself was an educational tool. It raised awareness of these issues and communicated their importance to the entire campus community.

Third, I think it communicates that we are all in this together. We are a special and distinctive community, one where a real commitment exists to welcoming and including everyone, regardless of race, background, gender, ethnicity or perspective. Ensuring that remains the case is work, and it involves commitment. It doesn’t happen naturally, and we don’t keep it through complacency.

Q: How will you motivate students to report these crimes? 

A: Most importantly, we will do so by removing the stigma associated with reporting. That’s not simply a UK challenge, of course, but a national one. Nevertheless, we must address it as a UK community.

I believe a constant, open conversation — one that’s done frankly and transparently — represents the best path forward. This survey — and our commitment to doing it openly and across the campus for five years — is a prime example of how you continue the conversation and remove the stigma. 

As we ensure that more people are aware of the resources available, and the protections provided to those reporting, you will see reporting go up and you will see the stigma removed. 

Moreover, even if a student chooses not to report, we want them to know about the resources available to them that they can utilize to get the help they may need.

Reporting a Safety Concern (public)

    UK Police: 

    UK Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity: 

Reporting a Safety Concern (confidential)

    VIP Center: 

    Counseling Center:

    University Health Services: