Officials respond to sexual assault and violence concerns

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Officials respond to sexual assault and violence concerns

Joseph Schulz, Regional Editor

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UW Oshkosh, UW-Fox Valley and UW-Fond du Lac are responding to students need for more resources to deal with sexual assault and relationship violence with the hiring of a sexual and interpersonal violence prevention coordinator.

The new sexual and interpersonal violence prevention coordinator, Gabrielle Schwartz, started at UWO on March 18.

Acting Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Art Munin said Schwartz is the central coordinating person across the three campuses who will provide advocacy and support for victims of sexual assault, as well as heading prevention efforts.

“Every institution I’ve worked at, I’ve had a position like this, and it was really important for me to create that here,” Munin said.

Munin said the current campus victim advocate is a grant-funded position and that the grant will run out at the end of the year, while the sexual and interpersonal violence prevention coordinator is a position funded by UWO.

“We wanted something that was backed by institutional dollars, so that I know this position will be here every single year,” Munin said.

Munin said administrators are still trying to figure out how the position will split time between the three campuses.

“For the victim advocacy aspect of her job, there’s just an element of on call, where if somebody calls you go,” Munin said.

Schwartz said she recently received her master’s degree from Boston University in public health policy and law and interned at the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

“As a state coalition CASA is not really in charge of implementing prevention work; they help other agencies implement that work,” Schwartz said. “I wanted to be [part of] one of those other agencies, and I really loved working in higher education. I found this position and the balance between student advocacy and support, as well as being able to do prevention work really appealed to me.”

Schwartz said one of the things that struck her about the position was the immense demand for it on campus.

“The search committee was made up of a lot of different departments on campus, ResLife, the counseling center, accessibility services, the Women’s Center, student recreation and wellness and there were students on the committee,” Schwartz said.

Another change in sexual assault reporting on the access campuses is that UWO will be responsible for publishing the clery crime report numbers for UWFV and UWFDL, which include sexual assault.

Munin said the change is part of the natural progression of combining three campuses into one university.

“I worked at DePaul University, we had a campus at downtown Loop and Lincoln Park, I’ve done this before,” Munin said.

Interim Dean of Students Buzz Bares said because the clery report covers a calendar year, rather than an academic year, and UWO began oversight of UWFV and UWFDL in August, UWO had to get the numbers for 2018 sent to them from the UW Central Office for the two access campuses.

“Because of the oversight being split for half of the year, this year we will be submitting three separate annual security reports,” Bares said. “However, moving forward, we may submit one narrative, with three separate sets of clery reportable crime. That will be determined when we start working on the report for the 2019 year.”

Besides transferring the sexual assault reports to UWO, the access campuses will be doing more on campus to raise awareness for sexual assault during sexual assault awareness month.

Access Campus Administrator Carla Rabe said each school will have an interactive display with sexual assault prevention information from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

“We also provide some hands-on activities that students can participate in,” Rabe said. “We have a couple other tentative plans that may be planned throughout the month but [we] need to confirm a few things first.”

Bares said administrators are trying to raise awareness for multiple areas related to sexual assault, including the definition of consent, the definition of sexual assault, the possible effects of alcohol or other drugs, how to report an incident and what happens when a person does report.

“We will look to increase awareness of employees on the access campuses as to how they can be a support to those that may report,” Bares said. “We will try and increase the awareness of the access campus students on how to report and to advertise the link to report.”