According to fall 2008 reports, reported sexual assaults on campus are significantly higher than the 2007-2008 academic year. So far there have been 10 assaults, compared to a total of four from last year.
The college is not set to release the data collected until the Campus Crime Cleary Report comes out later in the year, Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Jeff Mackay said.
“Sexual assault occurs all year but is a higher level in the first four to six weeks of the academic year,” Mackay said.
He said this is because students are more likely to participate in activities leading to sexual assaults, such as an increase in alcohol-heavy events.
Mackay is viewing the increase in a positive light, stating that it doesn’t necessarily mean more assaults are taking place on campus, but that more are reported. Sexual assault is the most underreported crime on college campuses, according to Mackay and William Curtin, interim director of campus safety.
“We wish more women, as well as men, would come forward more often,” Curtin said. “I understand there are many reasons why they don’t want to.”
Curtin has been at Linfield for four months and will be going back into retirement soon. In his previous position at Lewis & Clark College, Curtin handled many more sexual assault cases.
“I would like to prosecute and find people guilty of these kinds of things, but if you don’t have a willing victim it won’t go through in court,” he said.
When cases like these occur at Linfield, the victim has several outlets to report what has taken place. Anonymous sexual assault forms are located on campus at Student Services, the Campus Information Center, Counseling Office, Wellness Office, Withnell Commons, online and as well as from peer advisors and resident advisers.
When handled within the Linfield system, if the victim does not want to prosecute the case can be kept within the college and not taken to police.
Linfield’s Consent Awareness Training program is one of the main ways students get informed about sexual assault and how to handle the situation.
“We have to change the idea that you’re likely to be assaulted by someone you don’t know, because most of the time you will know your perpetrator,” Christina Ries, coordinator of health promotion and student wellness, said. “Most men aren’t perpetrators. They are people that blend into the community.”
This concept, as well as how to be a more effective bystander are all part of the training given to upperclassman who then administrator the CATS sessions to incoming freshmen in the fall.
Senior Chris Schuldt, Associate Students of Linfield College president, was a CATS presenter when he was a sophomore and believes the program is a good way to educate freshmen about sexual assault.
“Often when freshmen come to campus they are on their own for the first time and it teaches them what to keep an eye out for,” he said.
With that in mind, Schuldt said he feels there could be more exposure to what sexual assault is and how to report and eliminate it during the remainder of the school year.
Students are encouraged to go to www.linfield.edu/safety to print out sexual assault reporting forms, which can be turned in to unit box 6A11. Students have the option of listing their name, their perpetrators’ name, both or neither on the anonymous form.