MUPD, counselors speak out after recent sexual assaults

Kayla Simmons, Reporter

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The sexual assaults reported on campus this school year have emphasized the importance of campus safety for students.

Every school year, sexual assaults are reported on campuses all across the country, with the beginning of each semester typically having a higher number of reports than the remainder of the year.

While Marshall has seen an increase in the number of reports, counselors have said they think this could be attributed to the reporting spike typically seen when a new year begins.

“We often do see more reported at the beginning of the school year,” said Tenikka Phillips, a counselor at Marshall. “I’m not sure what specifically contributes to that. Often we do see more drinking and more parties at the beginning of the school year.”

Phillips said she think students are becoming more aware of what to look for in assault situations and feeling more comfortable with reporting the incidents.

“What we are seeing is more people willing to come forward,” Phillips said. “They are having a better understanding of how to identify sexual assault and the resources available to help them.”

Scott Ballou, an officer with the Marshall University Police Department, said there are steps students can take to help ensure their safety.

“It starts with self-awareness, risk reduction strategies, risk recognition and risk avoidance,” Ballou said. “Doing things that keep themselves from being victims of a crime or any type of attack.”

Services are available on and off campus for students to learn self-defense, including classes that offer credit hours for completion.

“There are a lot of services on campus,” Ballou said. “The number one thing we do here with the police department is offer a women’s self-defense class. It is a one hour class credit that the student takes as an elective, and it is a very empowering class.”

Counseling services can be found on the first floor of Prichard Hall. Any students who need counseling after enduring a sexual assault, or for any other reason, can contact the office at 304-696-2288.

Students are urged to report any sexual assaults or other on-campus criminal activity to MUPD at 304-696-4367.

Kayla Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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