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Preventing sexual assault on campus

By Riana Braselman
On September 13, 2017

The university sent out an email alert to students in response to an incident of sexual assault on campus. Annie Goodman/The Lion's Roar

On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the university sent out a student notice via email to all of campus. The email informed the recipients of a recent sexual assault that had taken place on campus, stating that the University Police Department cautioned “students about meeting strangers on dating apps and allowing them into their residence.” The university indicated that the e-mail was sent in order to ensure the safety of students and staff on campus and to promote “the practice of safe habits on and off campus.”

The incident report referred to in the e-mail states that a 2nd degree rape occurred around 9:00 pm until 9:30 pm in Louisiana Hall. The incident was reported roughly a half hour later. The Louisiana State legislature defines second degree rape as “rape committed when the anal, oral or vaginal sexual intercourse is deemed to be without the lawful consent of the victim,” and this includes incidences where the victim “is prevented from resisting the act by force or threats of physical violence” and/or “the victim is incapable of resisting or understanding the nature of the act.”

In order to encourage a safer campus, the UPD and University Counseling Center offered advice on how to promote a safer community by preventing the opportunities for sexual assault to occur.

“Watch out for your friends,” said Lieutenant Patrick Gipson. “Have your friends watch out for you. That’s kind of personal stuff we can all do. Just be careful. Most of the time, we’re going to be on our own, and we have to make sure that we are able to recognize, ‘Hey, there’s a dangerous situation here, so I might want to be on my guard.’ That’s what we can do individually.”

 To make an impact on change at a societal level, Gipson advises everyone to pay attention when members of the campus or Hammond community might be making an insensitive statement about the topic of sexual assault.

“As for the university community, some of the things we can do to help reduce opportunities for sexual assault is to call it out when it happens,” said Gipson. “Point it out when we see it. When we see someone making jokes or making comments or saying something that makes us believe that they’re not taking it seriously, to call them out on it and point it out. It might be a lack of education too. Make sure that all students understand that this is not acceptable behavior. Make sure all students understand that you can do something about it. You can call it out.”

The university offers to those who may be sexually assaulted ways to report the incident and resources to help the person through out the process of coping with the assault.

“If you or someone you know is sexually assaulted then the first step I recommend is having someone to report it,” said Gipson. “I’m not necessarily saying call the police. If you don’t want to call the police, there are many legitimate reasons why you might feel that way. There are always someone else you can contact and still get action taken.”

In the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, it is recommended to contact the Title IX Officer Gene Pregeant if a member of the university wishes to file a report whether for themselves or someone they know and can be done so at (985) 549-5888. The list of other reporting options includes: UPD, Human Resources or a responsible employee. Anonymous reports can be made at southeastern.edu/admin/police/anonymous_reporting/index.html.

According to the 2016 Annual Campus Security Report, the university provides options for survivors of sexual assault, dating violence and domestic violence. Primarily, the survivor “is encouraged to seek medical care immediately.” 

Also stated within the same security report, “psychological care can be provided by the Southeastern Louisiana University Counseling Center.”

“First of all it depends on whether it falls under Title IX,” said Associate Professor and Clinical Director Dr. Peter Emerson. “Lets say it was a student that sexually assaulted another student, that would fall under Title IX. They would have an advocate from the Counseling Center who would go through the process with them because they would file charges against that other student and then they would go through the school processes. They could also have counseling to work through the trauma or work through whatever they needed to work through, any sort of personal issues that came up with that, so they could also have a counselor assigned too and that would be two separate people.”

One of the roles of the counselor acting as an advocate would assist the victim during their initial hospitalization.

“They’d go to the hospital with the victim,” said Emerson. “And sit there with her through the process in meeting with the assessment nurse, a SANE nurse and going through the process of whether or not they’re going to have any type of preventative things and that sort of stuff. So a counselor would actually sit with them that night in the hospital as they went through all that stuff until they were released.”

Emerson offered advice on why he highly recommends a survivor of sexual assault to report.

“I hope that they would first of all report because if its not reported then the perpetrator can’t be stopped. And in a lot of cases as soon as its reported, then there are no more other victims,” said Emerson. “One of the things we try to do is provide those services and encourage them to report so that other women and or sometimes men are not abused by that same person because a person who does that sort of thing quite often will do that again unless they’re stopped. Sometimes it’s a matter of educating them to what affirmative consent means. Sometimes it’s a matter of stopping them because they’re going to do it anyway. That’s why we encourage the reporting.”

As stated in the Sexual Misconduct Policy, the university will provide resources to those who have been sexually assaulted. These resources include local advocacy, counseling and health/mental health services. The university also hosts education and prevention programs and campaigns geared towards awareness of sexual assault and bystander intervention programs.

Additional off campus resources include the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800.656.HOPE(4673) and Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network Online Chat web address, online.rainn.org. These resources are available 24/7.

The university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and the 2016 Annual Campus Security Report can be accessed online via the university’s website.

 

 

 

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