No NWI colleges on sex assault ‘watch list’
By Christin Nance Lazerus email@example.com May 1, 2014 8:10PM
Sexual assault awareness poster. | Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 3, 2014 6:42AM
Sexual assault on college campuses is in the spotlight this week, as the federal government announced initiatives to combat a problem that affects thousands of students, mostly women, often goes unreported and results sometimes in inadequate investigations.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Education identified 55 colleges and universities that are under federal investigation for their handling of sexual assault complaints.
In Indiana, Indiana University in Bloomington and Vincennes University made the list. IU spokesman Mark Land said the list is part of a random compliance review and not due to any specific complaints.
Though no Northwest Indiana colleges made the list, sexual assault is still present on and off campus locally. Indiana University Northwest had no forcible sex offenses in 2013, one in 2012 and one in 2011. Purdue University Calumet has had one forcible sex offense in each of the past three years.
Valparaiso University had two forcible sex offenses in 2012, two in 2011 and one in 2010, while Purdue University North Central did not have any sex offenses from 2011 to 2013.
Because sexual assaults often go unreported, incident reports don’t give the full picture of the problem.
In January, President Barack Obama established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. On Tuesday, it announced a series of actions: issuing campus climate surveys to measure the scope of the problem, encouraging bystanders to step in and help, providing guidance on how to respond effectively if a victim wants to talk in confidence and launching notalone.gov to show the federal government’s enforcement efforts.
Indiana Campus Sexual Assault Primary Prevention (INCSAPP), which is based at Purdue University in West Lafayette, has been helping campuses to expand efforts in sexual assault prevention for 17 years. Director Tammy Lowe said they will be providing technical assistance to campuses around the state on how to implement the task force’s recommendations.
Several local campuses have participated in its marketing campaign — putting up posters with headlines such as “Consent is hot; Assault is not,” “Ask for my sober yes,” and “Flirting is not consent.”
In November 2011, INCSAPP analyzed the Purdue North Central’s sexual assault policy, implemented a social marketing campaign and trained 27 people — faculty, staff and students — on how bystanders can intervene in a problematic situation to prevent a sexual assault. PNC received a grant that will allow it to continue to provide the bystander intervention training.
PNC’s police department also offers self-defense classes for women, which include training on how to protect themselves from crime.
The IUN police force has a policy to forward all reports of sexual assault to the Lake County prosecutor’s office for further review to ensure an additional layer of objective scrutiny.
“In addition, and in partnership with Indiana University, IU Northwest follows internal review policies that ensure additional support and resources for victims of alleged sexual assault crimes,” the university said in a statement.