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Campus rape in Utah is under new scrutiny.
As federal investigators probe Westminster College's handling of a 2013 sexual assault allegation, the school is considering how to better prevent rape and react to reports from students.
Westminster administrators also invited other college leaders to its Salt Lake City campus this week for a two-day crash course on sexual violence.
"Since we are the first school in Utah to be under the microscope like that, we're going to help prepare others," said Melissa Flores, Westminster's chief attorney. "I think they should welcome an audit. We need to know what are we doing right? What aren't we doing right? And what can we do better?"
Beginning Friday and continuing Saturday, Sexual Violence Symposium speakers such as Liz Seccuro, a victim advocate from Washington, D.C., and Michael Munson, an advocate for transgender sexual violence survivors, are joining attorneys and advocates to answer such questions.
It is welcome advice.
This fall, investigators from the U.S. Education Department's Office of Civil Rights will come to the liberal arts school to determine whether Westminster complied with federal regulations designed to protect victims when a student reported a sexual assault to the school in 2013. Flores said she could not provide more information on the investigation or how the school handled the 2013 sexual assault allegation.
Westminster is Utah's only college to come under federal investigation, but other campuses have drawn attention for similar reasons.
A 27-year-old Utah State University student faces sexual assault charges in Logan after two women, ages 19 and 20, told police he raped them.
At that school's eastern campus in Price, preseason training for the men's basketball team is on hold as campus police and administrators investigate what they believe could be a case of sexual assault. School officers are not releasing details on why the entire team has been sanctioned, but emphasize they are taking the issue seriously. Campus police, for example, sent out a campus safety alert after the incident.
Even before police get involved, advocates say, there is work to be done statewide.
"I think victims who want to report don't have a clear understanding of which way to go," said Holly Mullen, executive director of the Rape Recovery Center. "If it happens on campus, should they call campus police? Will they get better services if they call Salt Lake City?"
And discussions about sexual-assault prevention focus too often on the dangers of walking alone at night or drinking too much alcohol, and seldom on consent and understanding boundaries.
"Students are still not getting the message about what healthy sex is and what it is not," Mullen said.
Still, she added, some progress is being made.
Mullen's organization has partnered with a University of Utah fraternity to help college men understand that clear consent is needed. Beta Theta Pi is gearing up to host a second year of panel discussions.
"Stereotypically, Greek Row is where the problem runs the most rampant," said Vincent Fu, the U. chapter's vice president of internal programming. "There's definitely always work to be done."
Even though the state has more than 140,000 college students, only a handful of sexual assaults are reported on Utah campuses each year, according to mandatory public data reports compiled by campus and local police.
It's a tiny proportion compared to data from the Centers for Disease Control, which reports that one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college.
As the national spotlight remains focused on college students and rape, federal officials are updating the reporting criteria and issuing new guidance. And they are enforcing the current rules by investigating student claims such as the one against Westminster.
"I think we're going to see more schools on that list" of more than 100 U.S. colleges and universities under federal investigation, said Flores, the Westminster general counsel.
If the federal probe finds Westminster's handling of the case was inadequate, the school will have to update its policies. Flores does not expect the school of roughly 3,000 students to be hit with fines, which she said are levied only in the most egregious cases.
firstname.lastname@example.org What to do after an assault on campus or elsewhere
Find a safe place
Preserve evidence don't change clothes, shower or brush your teeth
Get medical attention
Consider reporting the attack, whether officially or confidentially
Where students can seek help/action after a sexual assault
Sexual-assault investigations vary from school to school. Reporting to school administration or law enforcement can ensure that students receive proper (and free) medical care after an attack. Victims are not obligated to press charges or participate in university investigations, but many departments are required to report alleged attacks, and some schools will pursue internal investigations without involving the victim.
Brigham Young University
Counseling • Provo's Center for Women and Children in Crisis (off campus), 801-356-2511, 1433 E. 840 North, Orem
Anonymous reporting • titleix.byu.edu/ report-concern or 888-238-1062
Campus police • 801-422-2222 or 911
School administration • Title IX coordinator Sarah Westerberg, 801-422-2130
Dixie State University
Counseling • Local nonprofit DOVE Center provides advocacy for sexual assault survivors on Wednesdays, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., at the Women's Resource Center, Holland Room 489
Campus police • 435-619-1144
School administration • Title IX coordinator Cindy Cole, 435-652-7731, email@example.com, North Administration Building Room 127
Salt Lake Community College
Counseling • Taylorsville/Redwood Campus Health Center, 801-957-4268; South City Campus Health Center, 801-957-3323
Campus police • 911
School administration • Dean of students, 801-957-4004; risk management, 801-957-4041
More resources • bit.ly/SLCCassault
Counseling • Counseling and Wellness Center, 435-283-7136, Social Science Building, Room 107
Campus police • 435-283-7170
School administration • Title IX coordinator Staci Taylor, 435-283-7120, firstname.lastname@example.org, Noyes Building, Human Resources, Room 233
More resources • bit.ly/SnowAssault
Southern Utah University
Confidential counseling • Canyon Creek Women's Crisis Center (off campus), 435-867-6149
Anonymous reporting form • bit.ly/SUUreport
Campus police • 435-586-1911
School administration • Title IX coordinator Deb Hill, 435-586-5419, student affairs, 435-586-7710
More resources • bit.ly/SUUassault
University of Utah
Confidential counseling • Sexual assault advocate Jodi Petersen, 801-581-7779, email@example.com, Student Services Building, Room 330
Campus police • 801-585-COPS (2677)
School administration • Title IX coordinator Krista Pickens, 801-581-8365, Park Building Room 135
More resources • bit.ly/UUassault
Utah State University
Confidential counseling • Sexual Assault and Anti Violence Information office, 435-797-1510, hotline 435-797-7273
Campus police • 435-797-1967 or 911
School administration • Student conduct office, 435-797-0977; Title IX office: 435-797-1266
More resources • bit.ly/USUassault
Utah State University, Eastern
Counseling • Student counseling center, 435-613-5670
Campus police • 435-637-0890 or 911
School administration • Title IX coordinator Tammy Auberger, 435-613-5678, firstname.lastname@example.org
Utah Valley University
Confidential counseling • Student health services, 801-863-8876; Utah County 24-hour crisis line: 801-226-4433
Campus police • 801-863-5555
School administration • Title IX coordinator, 801-863-7590; student conduct office: 801-863-8665
More resources • bit.ly/UVUassault
Weber State University
Counseling • YCC Women's Crisis Center, 801-392-7273
Campus police • 801-626-6460
School administration • Equal employment opportunity officer Barry Gomberg, 801-626-6240
More resources • bit.ly/WSUassault
Confidential counseling • Student Health Services, 801-832-2239; Lisa Jones, 801-832-2237, Michelle Call, 801-832-2246, Cory Shipp, 801-832-2273
Anonymous reporting form • bit.ly/WestminsterReport
Campus police • 801-832-2525
School administration • Title IX coordinator Jason Schwartz-Johnson, 801-832-2262, email@example.com
More resources • bit.ly/WestminsterAssault