Response to sexual assault raises concerns

Ryan Ogle

As reported last week, univer­sity police are investigating a reported rape on campus.

According to Washburn University Police Department Capt. Chris Enos, the incident occurred on the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 11 between the hours of 8:30 – 8:55 a.m. in Carole Chapel.

“It’s an ongoing investigation. We’re talking to all the parties involved and witnesses,” Enos said. “We want to protect the rights of the victim, so there is very little I can say about it at this point.”

The official police report states that a possible suspect has been identified.

In October of last year, when reports of sexual assault in the area of Washburn Village were made, the university was quick to send an email alert to the stu­dent body to warn them of pos­sible danger.

However, no such alarm was sounded after the incident at Carole Chapel.

According to Director of Uni­versity Relations, Patrick Early, no alert was sent because the distinction was made that the in­cident did not place the student body in danger.

Washburn President Jerry Farley addressed the situation in an email sent to all faculty and staff on Tuesday afternoon. In the email, Farley stood behind the decision to not issue an alert.

“I can’t give you any further information about the incident itself since there is an ongo­ing investigation, but I concur there was no threat to the cam­pus community involved and therefore, our police department properly followed our published policy in not issuing an iAlert in this matter,” Farley wrote. “We will begin, however, a thorough review of our timely notification policy.”

When news of the incident broke, a number of students expressed concern about the university’s decision to remain quiet.

“It’s irritating that students go­ing to Washburn and their safe­ty is in danger because they’re not aware of whats going on,” said Christian Sauerman, junior BFA. “Rape is serious. Rape shouldn’t be covered up. We should be getting this out to the public as soon as possible and not five or six days later after the incident happened.”

Junior mass media major Monica McDougal agrees that the university should have been more proactive in their response to the report.

“I think it’s interesting how they’ll send out alerts for thefts or suspicious characters, then when a student is assaulted in broad daylight, on campus, you don’t think that’s not important to let people know? Especially considering we’re on the list of universities facing investigation over how we handle sexual as­saults, you’d think they would take it seriously,” McDougal said. “We just need to stop cov­ering up sexual assault. It’s a re­ality and the less we talk about it the more it’s going to happen and clearly no one expected the police to send out the name of the victim, but it would be good to let people know, ‘Hey, this happened and we’re doing ev­erything to make sure it doesn’t happen again,’ and they just didn’t do it.”

Last summer, Washburn was included on a national list of more than 70 universities placed under federal investigation for their response to reports of sex­ual assault reports. Inclusion on the list does not mean that Washburn was in violation of any laws, nor did the list give details regarding why Washburn was being investigated.

Campus resident and fresh­man English major Teagan Thomson believes that, not only do students have the right to be made informed when violent crimes occur on campus, but that Washburn should increase its already existing safety mea­sures.

“People who live on campus deserve to know when things like this go on,” Thompson said. “And maybe put in more of the emergency phones in high traf­fic areas, like Mabee Library and other buildings on campus.”

Anyone with information re­lating to this incident can con­tact university police at 785-670-1153.