Campus officials look to limit instances of unreported sexual assaults

By Connor Evanoff

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A male UK student reported to university police that he was a victim of sexual misconduct in his dorm room by another male on Nov. 1, prompting a campus bulletin and furthering the conversation about sexual assault on campus.

Males report themselves as victims of sexual assault far less than females according to the National Crime Victimization Survey, but the mandatory Campus Attitudes Toward Safety Survey implemented by UK President Eli Capilouto revealed that male cases may be higher than previously expected.

“That’s one of the things that we saw,” UK Chief of Police Joe Monroe said. “Male victims are a little bit more hesitant to report versus female victims.”

The survey was designed as an anonymous way to collect information about how prevalent sexual assault is on campus and how often those cases are resolved.

After receiving nearly 25,000 responses, results from the survey showed that more than 1,000 UK students had been victims of a sexual wrongdoing, but only about 60 percent of cases were reported to authorities.

“The troubling reason is trying to find out why (report numbers are low),” Monroe said. “Is it because the stigma of being labeled a sexual assault victim? Is it because you don’t want to get that person in trouble?”

Each case of sexual assault is different; however, alcohol seems to be a key component to a majority of incidents according to UK police.

UK police say they will work with students who may be fearful about reporting an assault when alcohol is involved, even if the student is underage.

“They’re afraid they’re going to get in trouble for underage drinking, and that’s not the case,” Monroe said. “That’s that stigma or myth that is out there that we’re trying to break down. Your safety is the number one thing that we’re after.”

Once a case is reported, the victims are medically evaluated if necessary and have their safety concerns addressed.

Victims are then given resources like counseling to help them recover and are given the option to begin a criminal investigation at their discretion.

“They’ve been through enough. You want to make sure there’s no hindrance or roadblocks in place to get them to report anything,” Monroe said.

The Violence Intervention and Prevention Center is as a safe haven for victims of violence, sexual assault or stalking. VIP is UK’s biggest proponent of the bystander intervention program initiated by former UK VIP director Dorothy Edwards called Green Dot.

She has since taken the program on a nationwide campaign to prevent violence on other campuses.

Green Dot holds training seminars to educate students on how to take an active role in preventing an assault should they encounter a situation.

The UK police have also developed the Self Defense Tactics and Risk Reduction (S.T.A.R.R.) program exclusively for women to learn self-defense techniques and empower themselves in dangerous situations.

“It’s a self-defense program that teaches females risk reduction strategies as well as awareness levels… and teaches them how to avoid circumstances where they may become a victim,” Monroe said. “We have rave reviews because it’s so much fun… so it really empowers them to understand what they’re capable of doing.”

With the recent findings about male victimization, UK police say there have been discussions about expanding the S.T.A.R.R. program to educate males as well but there are no current plans.