Wescolite (Dillon, Mont) 1949-2009, December 08, 2004, Image 8

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December 8, 2004 The Wescolite Student Newspaper Sex Crime Awareness Campus group takes \hands on\ approach to promote sexual abuse awareness By Sandy Bradford Sex crimes plague col­ lege campuses across the nation. Incidents of rape, sexual assault, sexual co­ ercion, threat of abuse, bribery, intimidation, stalking, and sexual harassment demonstrate the im­ portance of abuse-awareness and edu­ cation. “College Campuses house large concentrations of young women who are at greater risk for rape and other forms of sexual assault than women in the general population or in a compa­ rable age group,’’ (J.E. Samuels, Acting Director of National Institute of Jus­ tice). In an effort to promote responsible behavior and sexual abuse awareness at UM-Westem, a small group came up with a plan. Signs were posted around the campus grounds indicating impor­ tant issues students should be aware of. A great show of hands dipped in paint were placed upon four banners reading “We Support Healthy and Responsible Behavior.” The funds for the banners were donated by Jeanie James of the Women’s Resource Center in Dillon. The other members of the group were Dr. Eric Murray, Brooke Erb, Lynn Weltzien, Mike Piazzola and Sandy Bradford. The following comments were made by some of the ‘hand-printing’ partici­ pants: “I wish there was more awareness for these girls.” (female). “We should do this all the time.” (female). “I think assault is a bad idea.” (male). “I’ve been a mature and responsible adult since I was eleven years old.” (fe­ male). “I don’t have the healthiest behavior.. .but I don’t do THAT.” (male referring to abuse). A research report titled, “The Sexual Victimization of College Women” that was released by the U.S. Justice Depart­ ment in 2000, revealed that an average of 35 incidents per 1000 students took place during 1996. According to the report, “Many women do not character­ ize their sexual victimizations as a crime for a number of reasons such as embar­ rassment, not clearly understanding the legal definition of rape, or not wanting to define someone they know who vic­ timized them as a rapist, or because they blame themselves for their sexual assault. Surveys of this kind also reveal that three-fourths of sexual assaults that take place include alcohol and drug use, and that the risk of victimization is highest for students who are younger and stu­ dents early in their college careers. In 1994, Lynn Weltzien and Denise Kirkpatrick conducted a sexual victim­ ization survey of the entire female stu­ dent population at UM-Westem. One of its purposes was to create a fairly comprehensive and accurate portrait of sexual assault on campus, specifically those incidents which prior to this sur­ vey were not reported to official agen­ cies. Questionnaires were mailed out and 54 percent responded, a total of 259 students. The results of the survey were rather shocking. Twenty-seven different re­ spondents disclosed a total of 44 inci­ dents of attempted or completed sexual intercourse without consent occurring during the 1993-1994 academic year. The survey showed that the majority of incidents occurred following an un­ planned meeting of the victims and the offender. It also showed that more than one-third did not discuss the incident with anyone. The campus security department’s records showed “0” inci­ dents of sexual assault, meaning that not one had been reported. According to Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, “teens tend to conform to peer norms. As a result, many teens decide accept­ able behavior and sex roles based on how these are interpreted by their peer groups. Both males and females fre­ quently act out their differences in man­ ners that reflect stereotypical notions of male dominance and female passivity.” Western’s survey showed that in most cases “the victim was not passive in her response to the offender, and 66.7 per­ cent reported being held down, 'hit* choked, or beat. The conclusion of Western’s report revealed that the vast majority of stu­ dents surveyed “know little or nothing about the resources available to them on campus and in the Dillon Commu­ nity.” The end of the report read as follows, “It is hypothesized that both victim and assailant are suffering from the emotional consequences of such occurrences. Ongoing campus support needs to continue for victims. Further data needs to be gathered regarding the male assailant and his needs.” Perhaps a better understanding can be reached by including our male students in a simi­ lar questionnaire. During the 2005 spring semester it is possible that another survey may be conducted. If it is based upon the same methodology as thç U.S. Justice De­ partment Research Report, it will in­ clude behaviorally specific questions “which generally find higher levels of sexual victimization.” Differences be­ tween types of studies most likely stem from the wide range of behaviorally specific screen questions. More care­ fully worded questions tend to help women define the details of their sexual assault and better understand the impli­ cations involved. On page 152-153 of Western’s Stu­ dent Handbook are the Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights, and informa­ tion on Sexual Harassment. It also shows a list of what kinds of behavior constitute sexual intimidation and harassment. (Affirmative Action Of­ ficer: 683-7101. Human Rights Com­ mission: 1-800-542-0807). As stated in the Student Handbook, “It is University policy that all students have a right to live, work and study in an environment free from all forms of discrimination, including sexual harass­ ment. 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Wescolite (Dillon, Mont), 08 Dec. 2004, located at <http://montananewspapers.org/lccn/Wescolite/2004-12-08/ed-1/seq-8/>, image provided by MONTANA NEWSPAPERS, Montana Historical Society, Helena, Montana.