Sexual Safety an Ongoing Campus Concern

The Campus Police regularly participate in student-organized safety awareness events. Officer Jon Martinez speaks to a crowd at the recent Slut Walk, a rape awareness march. Photograph: Paul Anthony George

With more than 18,000 students attending the University of Nevada, Reno, including more than 2,000 living on campus,  safety, including sexual assault, remains an issue of importance for students and staff at the university.

“We do not have any cases of sexual assault by strangers,” said UNR Campus Police Cmdr. Todd Renwick. “Of the four to six reports per year, pretty much all of them are date rape types of sexual assault.”

But Renwick adds that only a third of all sexual assaults are reported. “Most victims,” Renwick said, “do not report due to embarrassment or they do not want to go through court proceedings, having to testify in court.”

Listen to an interview with Commander Renwick:

Police Services and UNR have programs to protect, educate and assist students with campus safety. Along with regular patrols, Renwick said, the police participate in student safety and awareness activities such as the recent Slut Walk. The department also publishes brochures about campus safety and these are available in the lobby of the Police Services office in the Student Services Building.

UNR’s Campus Escort program began in 1984 as a service that walked students and staff to their cars or classes. Now the program is made up of eight vans, giving students and staff rides up to two miles from the campus perimeter.

“The purpose of the program is to increase safety and offer a safe transportation alternative for students and staff,” said Program Coordinator Chris Partridge.

Some students have complained, however, that the service sometimes takes up to 45 minutes to arrive. Partridge said that delays are on the rise and the department is addressing the issue. Last semester, according to Partridge, the Campus Escort gave 33,500 rides, the department’s largest demand ever.

“It can get overwhelming,” Partridge said, adding that the department’s goal is to reach passengers within 10 to 15 minutes from the time they call for a ride.

Another preventative measure taken by the university are the “blue light” emergency phones installed throughout the campus. With the touch of a button, the station places a call to a 911 dispatch.

“They have low activity, but serve as a deterrent,” Renwick said. “However, they have been helpful for medical emergencies.”

UNR’s Police Services also offers a self-defense course for women called Rape Aggression Defense. This national program features certified trainers and is available to women on campus.  According to UNR’s Web page for the program, it is a free 12-hour course. However, students can pay for a one-credit course that meets weekly.

Another program UNR offers is a counseling program called Personal Safety and Sexual Assault Prevention. According to its Web page, the program offers confidential counseling with mental health professionals, advocacy, and “workshops and classroom presentations on sexual violence prevention, personal safety awareness, healthy dating relationships, and the impact of alcohol and drugs on issues of sexual consent.”

The programs offered by UNR and the campus Police Services educate, protect and defend the student body from sexual assault and campus violence.

Police Services recently released its annual report about security and safety on campus. According to the report, the number of reported sexual assaults declined in 2010. There was one reported case that year, compared to six cases in 2008 and four cases in 2009.

But for any victim of sexual crimes, the statistics do not matter. The Crisis Call Center, a nonprofit organization, assists people with suicide hotlines, domestic violence counseling and many other personal safety issues, including sexual assault.

“We provide emotional support and a forensic examination. It is completely free. We have very high confidentiality. We are protected like a priest or a psychologist,” said the center’s Sexual Assault Support Services Program Assistant Tina Schweizer.

The victim, Schweizer said, can choose whether or not to report the incident to the authorities. However, cases where the victim is under 18 years old must be reported to law enforcement.

Statistics provided by Schweizer state that the rate of sexual assault in Nevada is higher than the national average. The statistics show that 20 to 25 percent of women attending college experience sexual assault during their college career. However, UNR continues to show a decline in cases of sexual crime.

Renwick expressed satisfaction with the programs that are in place.

“We have a pretty good educational safety component on campus.”

©  Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

Related Articles:

Slut Walk Brings Rape Awareness to Campus

Safety Contacts

Slut Walk Brings Rape Awareness to Campus

March coordinator Monika Mala leads protesters, yelling “a dress in not a yes.” Photograph by Paul Anthony George

Monika Mala, 25, a grad student working at the University of Nevada, Reno’s Center for Student Cultural Diversity, had never heard of a Slut Walk before another employee mentioned it to her. She researched the subject and discovered that these anti-rape marches were happening, not just in the United States, but also in other countries like Africa and India.

According to Mala, these marches began forming after a Toronto, Canada police officer made a comment that, in order to avoid sexual assault, women should not dress like sluts.

With a large freshman class entering UNR for the fall semester, Mala believed it would be a good time to raise the issue of sexual assault and campus safety by staging the march.

“This would be a cool event to have here,” Mala said.

Kasey Lafoon and Tina Schweizer, from the Crisis Call Center, participated in the Slut Walk. Afterward, both gave speeches to the crowd about the counseling the center provides for victims of rape. Photograph: Paul Anthony George

The protest took place Wednesday, Sept. 7, beginning behind the Jot Travis building on the UNR campus. Mala estimated the crowd to be 150 participants, including men and women. As the marchers moved through the campus, they yelled “a dress is not a yes” and “no means no” while carrying signs reading “victim blaming was never an option.”

The march ended in front of the Joe Crowley Student Union, where Mala introduced UNR Police Officer Jon Martinez, who talked to the crowd about the services the campus offers to improve campus safety.  Kasey Lafoon and Tina Schweizer from the Crisis Call Center then spoke about common misconceptions about sexual assault.

However, the event was not without critics. Nevada Sagebrush columnist Enjolie Esteve wrote an article a day before the event, commenting that it sends a mixed message and elevates a degrading term used toward women.

“I never meant for the event to have a derogatory message,” Mala said. She wanted to dispel the myth that “just because a woman dresses a certain way she’s inviting … sexual assault.”

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Additional Articles:

Sexual Safety an Ongoing Campus Concern

Safety Contacts

©  Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Paul Anthony George and The Reno Signal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

Safety Contacts

  • Emergency police, fire, ambulance 911
  • 911 (from a campus phone) dial 9-911
  • Counseling Services (775) 784-4648
  • Campus Escort Service (775) 742-6808
  • Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) (775) 784-1225
  • Student Health Center (775) 784-6598
  • University Police (775) 744-4013
  • Non-Emergency Dispatch (775) 334-2677 (334-COPS)
  • Reno Police – Victim Services Unit (775) 334-2115
  • Sparks Police (775) 353-2279
  • Washoe County Sheriff (775) 328-3000
  • Crisis Call Center (24 hours) (800) 273-8255
  • Nevada Coalition against Sexual Violence (775) 355-2220

Additional Articles:

Sexual Safety an Ongoing Campus Concern

Slut Walk Brings Rape Awareness to Campus