North Texas Daily

DOS heads new sexual assault prevention program

DOS heads new sexual assault prevention program

DOS heads new sexual assault prevention program
September 26
07:58 2013

Mollie Jamison / Staff Writer

Four sexual assault crimes have been reported at the University of Texas at Arlington this semester, as well as nine in the South Dallas residential area.

Dean of Students Maureen McGuiness is heading a new task force that aims to educate the UNT community on how to report and prevent assault crimes.

“It’s important for students to report all crimes – sexual assault in particular,” McGuiness said. “We need to do our due diligence to make sure our students are safe. We need to make sure the victim has gotten assistance whether it’s medical or mental health.”

The UNT Sexual Assault Prevention Task Force was created in August. McGuiness said the force is divided into four subgroups –  communication, education, training and campaign.

She said the force is comprised of a number of individuals across campus and the community as well as the Denton Police Department.

UNT Police Department Deputy Chief Ed Reynolds said the number of sexual assaults this semester is similar to those in the 2012-2013 annual report released by the university in compliance with the Clery Act.

In 2011 there were three forced sex offenses on campus. Two of them occurred in residence halls and one ocurred elsewhere. Two of the victims were assaulted by someone they knew and one victim was assaulted by a stranger. There is no indication of an increasing trend.

According to the Clery Report, victims of sexual assault on campus should notify UNT Police Department immediately.

Reynolds said there is a criminal and administrative approach to each sexual assault case on campus, and the police are always involved unless the victim requests the administration to handle the case explicitly.

“We do our initial investigation, and usually within the first 24 to 48 hours we have a fairly good picture of what has occurred,” Reynolds said. “Then we’re able to sit down with the Dean of Students and the university’s investigators and pass the information along so they can start their part of the investigation.”

McGuiness said her part in the investigation process continues by assisting the students. She informs them on what resources are available to them, such as counseling and testing at the campus Health and Wellness Center.

She said she also helps with their academics by reaching out to the victims’ professors.

“My job is to get the student in and see how we can help them,” McGuiness said. “I work with both Denton County and city of Denton police departments. They know to refer students to me, and we work with them to see how we can help them while they are still a student and make sure that if possible we keep them in school and keep them in a community where they feel safe.”

Three of the four assaults at UTA this semester reportedly took place at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house. There have been no reports of sexual assault at fraternity houses on UNT’s campus in 2013.

Judicial vice president of the Interfraternity Council at UNT Keith Anderson said in the event of an alleged infraction the judicial board gathers and hears the evidence.

Anderson, a decision sciences senior, said should the IFC board determine a bylaw infraction ocurred, each chapter representative would decide the appropriate action.

“From an IFC standpoint, we uphold our standards and bylaws to the best of our ability,” Anderson said. “And the respective delegates can only relay our reports to their chapters.”

McGuiness said sexual assault crimes don’t just affect women – they affect everyone.

“It’s not just something where women are the victim,” McGuinness said. “I think a victim can be any race, creed, color or sexual orientation. It’s important to educate our community on how to take care of themselves, how to protect themselves, how to stay safe and how to look out for other people.”

Assigning Editor Melissa Wylie contributed to this report.

Feature photo courtesy of dallasnews.com

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