Assault prevention a campus problem

On campus this week, students may catch a glimpse of a large poster board covered in blue thumbprints. Blue is the traditional ribbon color for Sexual Assault Awareness Week. Students who place their thumbprint on the board make a pledge to their fellow students and to themselves to take the initiative in preventing and reporting sexual assaults.

I placed my thumbprint on the board, and whether or not students have an opportunity to do so, every Bulldog should make that pledge. Student safety is every student’s responsibility.

Butler University students should be especially aware of the problem following the report of a sexual assault at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house.

Butler University Police Department issued a warning for all students regarding their safety. While the warning is necessary and helpful for students, the pledge makes the issue personal. It represents a commitment by the entire student community, faculty and staff to protect each other and prevent sexual assault.

Underreporting is tragically common for crimes of this nature, which is precisely why Sexual Assault Awareness Week is so important. According to Andrew Ryan, assistant chief of police at BUPD, sexual assault is underreported.

It is imperative for students to watch out for each other, encourage victims to report the crimes committed against them and to call out inappropriate actions when they see them.

Sexual assault devastates its victims, and the community at large suffers as well. Victims of sexual assault may feel alone, but Butler offers services to reach out and help.

Sarah Barnes, coordinator for health education and outreach programs, identified several resources available to students, including the victim advocate program and 24-hour victim advocate phone line, which provides support to victims of sexual assault or other types of violence.

“We want students to take ownership of their safety and that of the community,” Barnes said.

She added that sexual  assault incidents don’t happen in a bubble, and students need to be vigilant about contacting BUPD to keep campus safe.

That’s what the pledge is all about.

“One time is too many,” said Butler Police Sergeant Anthony Rivera.

He encouraged victims to come forward and seek help, and he encouraged all students to get educated about preventing sexual assaults.

Although sexual assault victimizes individuals, the entire community must fight the problem.

So please take advantage of the vast array of services Butler has to offer.

Whenever necessary, step up and take action for the health and safety of fellow students, the university and the Butler community.

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