Campus addresses recent sexual assault

Statistics suggest 1 in 5 women will be victims of rape or attempted rape during their college careers. Between approximately 2-3:30 a.m. on March 7, a student was raped in the residence halls at Sonoma State University. This case is still under investigation, but is by no means being taken lightly.

“Even if it’s one, it’s too many,” said Sergeant of the Sonoma State’s Police Services Clarence Jones.

Rape and sexual assault are controversial topics for college campuses especially in recent months in regards to maintaining a positive and prestigious image.

According to Jones, Sonoma State is not a campus that tries to hide crimes from the public to gain a certain reputation.

“Covering it up doesn’t benefit the community at all,” Jones said. “If there’s a suspect at large, you need to make a community-wide announcement and report it on your stats. It’s honest.”

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, nine in 10 rape and sexual assault victims knew their offender. Thirty-five incidents of rape occur for every 1,000 female college students every academic year. In roughly 66.3 percent of rape or sexual assault cases, the assault occurred off-campus and less than 5 percent of rapes or attempted rapes against women attending college were actually reported to law enforcement. 

“It makes me feel really disgusted that these things happen on our campus,” said sophomore and business major Allison Metheny. “I don’t think any woman or man should have to constantly be worrying about whether not they could be sexually assaulted when they should feel safe. We need more preventative classes like we had at orientation to learn about how to handle these situations and stop them from happening.”

Sonoma State police are already at work to help educate students on how to identify potential predators and even eliminate themselves as potential victims.

Sergeant Jones urges people to be more involved with their own safety.

“There’s only so much we can do after the fact,” Jones said. “We aim to have people look out for themselves and look out for their neighbors. We want to eliminate it all together, but realistically, we can’t.”

Police Services includes an extensive list on sexual assault prevention tips in addition to many other crime prevention tips. They encourage students to report these crimes and file charges.On campus, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) aims to help students struggling with a multitude of problems, but Laura Williams, director of clinical services, is specialized in helping rape or sexual assault victims. 

“In terms of crisis advocacy,” Williams said, “we provide information and support students in deciding about reporting, helping them locate on and off-campus resources for various forms of assistance such as obtaining restraining orders or having a forensic medical exam, assisting them with contacting professors to make arrangements regarding missed classes, late assignments or other course requirements, and contacting housing if they need to move their room in order to feel safe. Counseling and Psychological Services provides support and treatment for individuals and group sessions. 

Verity provides support and counseling for victims of sexual assault and abuse. They seek to end all violence by promoting social justice and equality in the community. 

Verity has a 24/7 crisis line at 707-545-7273 and is located in Santa Rosa. People affected by sexual assault are encouraged to visit Ourverity.org for more information. 

Sonoma State has continued to take preventative measures by implementing a mandatory online sexual assault education module issued to students via email on Wednesday.