You can make a difference in ending sexual assault

I’m not stranger to reporting on sexual assault. It is something I hate to talk about, however, it is important to me that I address this issue.

The first time I ever covered a story on sexual assault was when I was a journalism student at Los Angeles Pierce College as a reporter, photojournalist, and opinion editor for Roundup News.

Each year students across the country address this issue on college campuses. They would hang up t-shirts and jeans as a symbol of their being a victim of this heinous crime. During my time as a student at Northern Arizona University, there were multiple sexual assaults which took place on the NAU campus.

During my senior year at NAU, NAU police department reported three sexual assaults had occurred within two months with one surreptitious viewing during the 2023 spring semester. NAU PD crime reports also indicated there were four sexual assaults and one attempted sexual assault which happened in the fall of 2022. November and December were the most recent assaults before the 2023 spring semester.

As a student reporter and assignment editor for NAZ Today, I had to cover the NAU Title IX protest for my investigative reporting class. Many female and LBGTQ students protested in front of the office of Title IX Coordinator Elyce Morris. Morris was appointed to her post at NAU in the fall of 2020.

Many students on the NAU Campus accused Morris of failing to do her job. Morris defended herself saying she was trying hard to reduce the sexual assaults which took place on the NAU campus. She blamed the lack of police funding and that not enough officers were being hired.

Flagstaff Police Department and the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office have limited jurisdiction in these cases. The only thing the local law enforcement in Flagstaff can do is take a report and if the suspect is identified, they can make an arrest based on evidence.

My advice for parents and students, especially parents who are sending their kids off to college, is that you must talk about this with your son or daughter to help them make plans on how they can prevent sexual assault or at least reduce it.

For students who plan on going to college this fall, here are some ideas that you can do to help prevent female students from being victims.

Safe Guidance Program

Male students who want to help make a difference in preventing sexual assaults from happening should organize a Safe Guidance Program. Forming an SGP is a good way to protect female students. What college male and female students should do is provide escorting services as part of SGP. For example, you can walk a female student to her car, class, or dorm.

It is also a good idea that both male and female students escort the other female students together.

The next plan is to organize with college male students who are trustworthy. Get together with your University or Community College and find all the resources and protocols to help you organize. Once you organize, pass out business cards with your cell phone and Email address.

This would be useful when a female student feels she is in danger they can call you to escort them to their car or dorm.

Parking lots on college campuses can be dangerous at night. That is why having a business card with your phone number or Email can help save a life or prevent a sexual assault from happening. If a female student is afraid to be out of her car, your SGP organized group can be a lifesaver.

Beware of your surroundings.

Never allow strangers in your dorm. Do not accept any beverage from someone you do not know. Always carry your cell phone with you at all times when you are walking on campus or off campus. It is also good to carry a flashlight and pepper spray in your backpack or handbag. Always call a trusted friend when you think you are in danger.

Organize a Meeting when you have an SGP Group.

Always organize a meeting and find out your peers’ class schedules. Also, invite female students to your meeting so they know who is a part of SGP. It’s a good way to build trust and friendship. So if you’re not in class and have free time you can be on call if any female student needs help being escorted from their car at night or leaving class at night.

These are some ideas that can help make a difference. Remember this could be your sister or girlfriend who could be in danger.

 

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