Rape prevention well worth cost

Across the board budget cuts are beginning to strike, this time axing Rape Aggression Defense classes offered by the U Police Department.

The two-month course was offered three times a year, but suffered from inconsistent enrollment. Occasionally the class would have as many as 70 women on the waiting list, while sometimes only having 12 class members, many of whom were not U students. The U police and U Safety Committee decided that cutting the program’s $1,800 budget, approximately $600 per class, would help meet the state’s 4 percent budget cut.

According to the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, one in four women experiences sexual assault during her college years. The U boasts 12,600 female students, suggesting about 3,150 have experienced or will experience sexual assault. But only 1 to 2 students have reported forcible sexual abuse on campus each year since 2005, according to the campus police annual safety report.

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of sexual assault violations could be going unreported every year on our campus, and the program best suited to prevent them is being cut. The money saved will hardly make a dent in a 4 percent budget cut.

Participants in the class even pay a $25 fee. In the case of a small, 12-member class, that still equals $300, roughly half of the cost to fund one class. In the case of a large class, money from the fee might even exceed the cost of hosting the program.

Instead of just rolling over on this program, U Police and the Safety Committee should be more creative. Attracting donors and volunteers to bolster the program could yield results without increasing spending.

Losing this service on campus suggests to future and current victims that the U can’t afford to protect them. Even one prevented rape is well worth the expense.

Should the classes ultimately be cut, students can find similar services at the Rape Recovery Center in Salt Lake City. The center offers primary prevention education, and even counseling for victims. For more information, visit their Web site at www.raperecoverycenter.com.

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