Campus sexual assault, nonconsensual sexual conduct of a student within the boundaries of an institution of higher education, has been a controversial issue nationwide.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), one in five women and one in 16 men are victims of campus sexual assault. Additionally, more than 90 percent of the victims don’t report the crimes. Organizations such as NSVRC and universities across the country are taking steps to raise awareness with sexual assault recognition and prevention programs.
In 2014, 55 collegiate institutions were subject to investigation for Title IX violations by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, including the University of Denver. Since then, DU’s Center for Advocacy, Prevention and Empowerment (CAPE) has increased their presence on campus.
In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, CAPE has sponsored a variety of events which promote a safer campus environment this April. These events included featured guest speakers such as Andrea Gibson and the university’s annual Consent Carnival, which focused on educating students with games and activities centered around both giving and receiving consent.
“I think they are doing a good job of informing students about what is going on and making sure the campus is safer,” says Brandon McCormick, a freshman. “Although, a lot of the time, at least with some of the people I know, I can say that it isn’t taken as seriously as it should be.”
As of this academic year, Undergraduate Student Government requires that all leaders of DU student organizations complete B.O.S.S. training, one of the programs sponsored by CAPE, in order to receive club funding. According to the CAPE website, “to be a DU B.O.S.S. is to: Be aware, Observe your situation, Size up your options, Speak up and act.”
However, despite CAPE’s efforts across the DU campus, seven cases of sexual assault have been reported since the beginning of the year according to the university’s Office of Title IX.
“Given the recent allegations, I haven’t heard anything,” says Samantha Stoddart, a freshman. “More attention really should be brought to the issue after the HCC’s (Health and Counseling Center) seminar during orientation week.”
A joint report from Rebecca Chopp, the university’s Chancellor, and Jean McCallister, the university’s Title IX Coordinator stated “the University of Denver is committed to fostering an environment of safety and respect, where sexual misconduct is never tolerated and where all members of our community have the resources and support necessary for them to thrive.”
Since joining DU, Chopp has been actively campaigning for a better campus culture both in and out of the classroom. Last year she participated in Denim Day and encouraged the student body to join her by wearing jeans to raise awareness for the victims of sexual assault.
“I think the effort shows but they do have room for improvement as there are still many cases going unreported,” says Michael Gooch, a senior. “I think it would be best to implement programs that change the campus climate, so that survivors can have a voice and feel more comfortable sharing their stories.”
Question: How do you feel DU is addressing the issue of sexual assault on campus?
Place and time of interviews: Anderson Academic Commons, University of Denver. Monday, April 19, 2016.Brandon McCormick, Freshman“I think they are doing a good job of informing students about what is going on and making sure the campus is safer. Although, a lot of the time, at least with some of the people I know, I can say that it isn’t taken as seriously as it should be. Being a guy, this doesn’t affect me much but we should be more concerned about who this is affecting, no matter who is involved because it simply isn’t okay.” Samantha Stoddart, Freshman“Given the recent allegations, I haven’t heard anything (from the university). More attention really should be brought to the issue after the HCC’s seminar during orientation week. My sorority had CAPE come visit and talk to us about preventing sexual assault. Although, I’m not sure if DU asked them to visit or if Delta Gamma did. Other than Campus Safety sending informative emails, there really isn’t much else.” Michael Gooch, Senior“They are doing better now since the Title IX reports came out. I think the effort shows but they do have room for improvement as there are still many cases going unreported. I think it would be best to implement programs that change the campus climate, so that survivors can have a voice and feel more comfortable sharing their stories.”