Campus entities commit to victim advocacy

Jessica Knieff

Washburn University Police Department received two reports of rape in Lincoln Hall during the month of September.

Students received Awareness Notification Bulletins Sept. 10 and Sept 30. The notifications were similar in nature, both reports are under investigation and the suspect was known to the victim in both cases.

The awareness notification bulletins are sent by WUPD to notify the campus of serious allegations of crimes that occur on campus for the general knowledge of the campus community. These two bulletins stated that there was no indication of any ongoing threat to the campus community.

Chris Enos, chief of police for WUPD, shared some insight about the campus climate surrounding sexual assault and active bystander intervention.

According to Enos, Washburn University applied for and received a Department of Justice grant for sexual assault prevention and active bystander intervention training. Students all over campus have been going through the training sessions and learning more about intervention, reporting and victim advocacy.

“Hopefully because of the education we’re doing, people will report these things more,” Enos said.

Enos described the steps the WUPD takes when faced with these situations. They have an obligation to make the campus aware through daily crime and fire logs posted online. However, the awareness notification bulletins allow them to be able to give extra details about any given situation.

Enos said that the victim of the crime typically works with WUPD on the message that gets sent out in awareness notification bulletins. This allows students, staff and faculty to understand more specific circumstances of the situation and whether there is an ongoing 

threat to the campus community without infringing upon the privacy of the victim.

“If we felt that the campus were in any kind of danger, we would be sending more than just an email,” Enos said.

Joel Bluml, associate vice president for student life, discussed the importance of being a prosocial bystander and how cultural shifts like this sometimes take time.

Bluml said that these trainings help people know how to identify and respond to risky situations. He also said that it gives people the resources they need to report a assaults and to be successful after becoming a survivor of assault.

“If people don’t report these things, we can’t help them to get where they need to be to be successful and to be survivors,” Bluml said. “To think that this is just starting to happen because we are getting more reports, is simply to be uninformed.”

Around campus, efforts can be seen moving toward creating a culture of consent. Senator Bayley Baker presented a resolution against sexual assault on college campuses which was accepted with unanimous support Sept. 20. All members of WSGA signed a collaborative statement Sept. 27.

Students looking for a confidential resource for all victims of crime on campus, can contact Victim Advocate Molly Steffes-Hermann at [email protected]. The next active bystander intervention training that is open to all Washburn students, staff and faculty is 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 13 in Mabee Library Room 105.