KGUN 9News


More students reporting assault at UA

Posted at 8:42 AM, Nov 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-23 10:42:05-05

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - In the past three years the number of forcible sexual offenses has nearly doubled on the University of Arizona campus. The increase is not indicative of a new trend where more students being assaulted, but rather a growing trend of reporting offenses.

In 2012 there were 19 forcible sexual offenses according to University of Arizona Police Departments Campus Safety, Security and Fire Report. In 2014 there were 36.

"I think our students are just more aware of our resources and as a result they are sharing that," said Rosanna Curti, Assistant Director of Residential Behavior with Residence Life.

Curti says Resident Assistants, or RAs, are often on the front lines in dealing with sexual assaults in campus dorms.

"When we have a report of a sexual assault occurring, it is typically through our RA," she said.

Curti helps train RAs before each school year. Part of their training is in how to deal with a student who says they were assaulted. She says the RA will help the student find resources they need to handle the assault, but also help console the student.

"We also want them to listen and support the student. Not in a counselor setting, but more of an 'I am sorry this happened to you' and here are your resources and what you can do next to feel safe, " said Curti.

The RAs are required to report the assault to UAPD if a student discloses the information to them.

Now, how many assaults reallly take place on campus? The numbers are hard to tell.

Mary-Beth Tucker is a Title IX attorney on campus, she says the number of assaults is higher than 36.

"We know that sexual assaults are under reported," said Tucker.

In the campus dorms, Curti says in one semester the RAs may run across as many as 20 or 30 students who disclose that they are assaulted.

Tucker says students on campus have a number of options. For instance, victims can get help adjusting their schedule, living situation, or residence hall if they choose.

Just as important as reporting an assault, is prevention.

OASIS is an on-campus program housed the Women's Resource Center. They work to respond to forms of violence, like sexual assault, and work on prevention.

"Oasis program offers prevention programing to our campus around sexual assault, relationship violence, personal violence, stalking, any type of violence especially gender based," said Krista Millay, an assistant dean of students and Director of the Women's Resouce Center.

Their prevention programs are mostly on-demand, meaning groups must reach out to them for programming. Millay says they have already educated about 2,000 students this year.

One major component of Oasis programs deals with consent. Millay says most students already know what it is and use it in their day to day life. For example, asking a family member for a hug is one form of getting consent.

"Often it is reframing something that is just maybe being a good human, a good person," says Millay. "Taking empathy and applying it to sexual relationships."

The student community is also active. Tatum Hammond is a junior at the University of Arizona and co-director of the "I Will" campaign.

"Our mission statement is centered around the fact that we are going to work towards ending rape culture, making people aware of the resources and what steps there are," said Hammond.

The campaign will come to campus in February. Hammond says they know their single campaign will not end sexual assault, but they want people to know they are "working" to end it. Included in the "I Will" campaign are different student groups, greek life, athletes, administration, and UAPD.

"We want to make sure we address this as an issue that affects every student because sexual assault is present in every community," said Hammond.