WSG holds sexual assualt forum

Nathan Kober, Staff Writer

At a Whitewater Student Government (WSG) town hall meeting Tuesday, Nov. 22, campus police and student leaders met to discuss sexual assault prevention and reporting strategies.

The major focus of discussion was an increase in email notifications sent to students in response to sexual assaults, including three safety alerts issued in October
this year.

Campus Police Chief Matthew Kiederlen said campus police have issued more safety warnings so far this year as a matter of policy, not because of an increase in assaults. The number of reported incidents has decreased overall.

Under the Clery Act, universities that receive federal funding are required by law to share information about crimes on campus. The law was amended in 2013, requiring universities to increase transparency and public safety.

“What you’re seeing is really what we should have been putting out,” Kiederlen said.

Notifications are sent if the police believe there is an ongoing risk to public safety. If an incident is reported and the offender is still unknown the police are required to tell the public.

Campus police, housing staff and student government officials also made plans to make students more aware of how to report assault. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN),  a national anti-sexual violence organization, only 20 percent of female student victims of sexual assault age 18-24 report to
law enforcement.

Students who want to talk about sexual assault without reporting to law enforcement can talk to university counselors.

Associate Director of University Housing Terry Tumbarello said students are becoming more aware of how and where they can report an incident.

Housing staff are required to report any incident of sexual assault to the police. New Student Seminar classes teaches students about informed consent and the factors that often lead to sexual violence. It has been reported that alcohol is a factor in the majority of sexual assaults investigated by police.

WSG members brought up the need to better organize student and faculty lead sexual assault prevention groups on campus. UW-Whitewater has a Sexual Violence & Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee as well as the Sexual Assault Prevention Advisory Committee.

Both committees consist of representatives from university groups such as housing and athletics.

WSG President Kane Poad said he hopes student lead organizations focused on sexual assault prevention will combine their efforts with those groups and each other.