Unreported campus assaults are a call for concern

When I hear students chatting in the GUC or in classes, one issue seems to consistently arise: sexual assault.

Many UNA students have voiced concerns about the threat of being raped on campus, and the facts correlate with their fears. Warning: the statistics for sexual assaults on college campuses across the nation may cause side effects such as nausea, increased heart rate and shortness of breath.

As a female college student, I am within a 20-25 percent range for being a victim of completed or attempted rape, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. My memory is not what it used to be, but it seems that statistic was not given in any of the SOAR sessions.

Statistics also show less than 5 percent of all completed or attempted rapes against women in college are reported to the police.

Six sexual assaults have been reported, including rape, on UNA’s campus since I was a freshman in fall 2011, according to the UNA Police Department crime logs. The crime log pages for December 2013 and February 2014 were unavailable to view.

If less than 5 percent are reported to police, as stated in the research, the actual number of sexual assaults on campus during that time period is estimated to be 120.

Thanks to the UNA Title IX Education and Prevention Advisory Board, including main investigators Amber Paulk and Andrea Hunt from the sociology department, Yashica Williams from the department of criminal justice, and several other faculty members, that number is being addressed.

The White House is taking a stand by making new advances in Title IX legislation, forcing colleges in the U.S. to change the way they approach sexual assault.

Finally, a step in the right direction.

My question is: Why did UNA take so long to jump on the safety bandwagon?

It would seem either administration did not care or did not want to be haunted by the overwhelming number of cases reported and not reported. Nonetheless, legislation thankfully prevails over administration.

If the number of potential sexual assaults disturbs you, take the Student Campus Climate Survey. It may be hidden in the mass deletion of all UNA emails, but go back through and take it.

Yes, it took me 30 minutes to complete, but if you care for the safety of your best friends, male and female, the survey is in your best interest to take.

The only reservation I have about the survey is true freshmen, 18-year-olds, cannot take the survey without parental consent. Paulk said an old rule in the state of Alabama only allows 19-year-olds and older to independently consent.

I call on the Alabama legislature to amend that rule, considering lawmakers probably have sisters, nieces or daughters attending college.

Just as the season begins to change, the way the university responds to sexual assault needs to change. With the UNA Title IX Education and Prevention Advisory Board leading the charge, I know UNA is in good hands. The rest is up to students.