Faculty members, staff and students are leery about the number of sexual assaults that Dixie State University security reports show, but the numbers show what has been reported to the security department.
Sexual assault does happen on the DSU campus, but faculty and staff say victims of sexual assault must speak up in order for administration and the security department to do their job.
According to the DSU crime report, only four arrests for sexual battery and five for sexual assault have happened on the DSU campus since 2006.
Statistics published by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network show that on average, 237,868 sexual assaults happen nationally each year.
One out of four women in the nation is sexually assaulted in their lifetime, said Joel Lewis, department chair of history. One out of three women in Utah is sexually assaulted.
Are the numbers valid?
“I find it difficult to accept or believe that there have only been five cases of sexual assault on this campus since 2006,” communication professor Dennis Wignall said.
He said with national statistics of sexual assault so high it seems like DSU’s should be higher.
“It’s interesting because usually people who talk to us about our crime reports seem disappointed in the low number of sexual assaults; they usually think we are lying on our reports,” Security Director Don Reid said.
You’d think they would be happy that DSU is safe, Reid said. Instead they seem dissatisfied.
“If it doesn’t get reported, there is not a thing that I can do about it,” Reid said. “All I can report is what gets reported to us.”
The Reporting Process
A student who has experienced sexual assault and requested anonymity said after her incident, she confided in a professor who reported the incident to Dean of Students Del Beatty. She said that even after her professor had contacted Beatty multiple times, Beatty still didn’t reach out to her.
Part of the policy for reporting sexual assault is contacting Beatty, but prior to that, contacting law enforcement is supposed to happen.
“Beatty is not a trained investigator,” Reid said.
He can’t ask too many questions because then legally, the security department won’t be able to ask those questions, Reid said. Often Beatty will allow time for the investigation to occur before meeting with the victim.
Wignall said after having the student confide in him, the incident was reported and he has been following the reporting process in support of her.
“It has been a time-consuming process,” Wignall said. “On the one hand it is difficult for the victim because it doesn’t seem to be an effective process done in a timely manner. On the other hand, the institution has to be careful that the allegations made are true, which takes a long period of time.”
Wignall said the policy for reporting sexual assaults needs revision and modernization by a concerted effort of intelligent men and women.
Not only does it need revision, but it needs to be openly published where it is easily accessible and everyone will know about it, Wignall said.
Currently the policy is to:
1. Call 911 when the incident happens. The nearest on-duty officer will report to the scene.
2. Report both on- and off-campus assaults to a DSU official, generally Beatty, so he can help you.
3. Seek guidance and support from the Health and Wellness Center, local Dove Center or online resource.
“We work very hard to inform students of the realities of sexual assault,” Reid said. “So far this semester we have gone into about 18 different First Year Experience classes and taught freshmen what they should be aware of.”
Reid said when victims take multiple weeks to report their incident it makes helping them more difficult because the physical evidence is no longer there.
Lewis said it is important for victims of sexual assault to speak up and report the incident.
“Break the silence, end the violence,” Lewis said.
The anonymous student agrees that even with a policy in place, having the courage to speak up about the incident is what matters most.
“Regardless of a policy, it really boils down to how brave you are,” the anonymous student said.
People who have experienced sexual assault may think that reporting their incident will just make them look like they are seeking sympathy, the anonymous student said.
On the other hand, they may be worried about hurting their perpetrator, said DSU alumnus Brandon Price, who now works at the University of Central Arkansas where they participate in the Haven by EverFi Title IX training program.
“It’s an uncomfortable thing for people to talk about, possibly because they don’t want to get someone in trouble,” Price said.
What everyone needs to realize is that by not speaking up you are giving the perpetrator more power, Lewis said.