Sexual Assault Reported On U Campus

University+of+Utah+Police+cars+lined+up+outside+of+the+Police+building+on+campus%2C+Monday%2C+Sept.+14%2C+2015%0A%28Photo+by%3A+Kiffer+Creveling+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29
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Sexual Assault Reported On U Campus

University of Utah Police cars lined up outside of the Police building on campus, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015
(Photo by: Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

University of Utah Police cars lined up outside of the Police building on campus, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015 (Photo by: Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Kiffer Creveling

University of Utah Police cars lined up outside of the Police building on campus, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015 (Photo by: Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Kiffer Creveling

Kiffer Creveling

University of Utah Police cars lined up outside of the Police building on campus, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015 (Photo by: Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Amy Loret

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Content Warning: This article deals with sexual assault and campus safety. A list of campus resources is provided at the bottom.

University of Utah police are investigating a sexual assault that reportedly occurred on the U’s campus. In the victim’s report, a woman described being sexually assaulted by a man around 10:30 p.m. near the west side of the Marriott Library on Monday, March 25, 2019.

Police learned about and promptly responded to the report of the assault when the victim went to the University of Utah Hospital just after midnight on Tuesday, March 26 according to U Police Lt. Brian Wahlin during a press conference on Tuesday morning at the U.

At this time no arrests have been made. Police investigation is ongoing and no details of the alleged assailant are available.

To protect the privacy of the person who reported the assault, no information to the identity of the victim is available to the public. “In order to allow our victim in this case time to work through that trauma and get through the event that she’s been through,” said Wahlin, “we require at least two sleep cycles for her in order to have a followup interview with her.” Wahlin also would not confirm whether the victim is a student or an adult.

Anyone with helpful information related to the incident is encouraged to contact University of Utah Campus Police by calling 801-585-2677 (801-585-COPS).

U President Ruth Watkins responded to the sexual assault in a statement released around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday in which she urged “all members of our campus community to be active bystanders and to report suspicious behavior to campus police.”

Two campus safety alerts were sent out. The first one was sent out around 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday, followed by the second alert around 8:30 a.m.

“This morning’s alert is part of our commitment to communicate when potential incidents occur that may have far-reaching impacts,” Watkins wrote. “Typically, university police attempt to confirm crimes and gather helpful evidence before alerting the entire community.”

Watkins continues, “However, sometimes that is not possible in a short time frame and when the nature of the reported crime is serious enough to warrant putting the campus on alert before an incident can be verified. That is why you received this message today.”

The U’s campus alert system will continue to share updated information as it becomes available. Updates will also be posted on http://alert.utah.edu.

Campus alerts also indicated that students who wish for a courtesy escort anywhere on campus, such as to their vehicle or to and from classes, are encouraged to call 801-585-2677 to arrange service anytime during the day.

Additionally, university police have increased patrols around campus following the report.

According to sophomore Michelle Valdes, a writing and rhetoric studies major at the U, “As a student and as a woman that spends a lot of time on campus, whether that be just for my general education or for the extracurriculars that I do outside of school, it’s very alarming to me that somewhere that I spend a lot of my time would have this kind of barrier for my safety, and I think that it is to be acknowledged that a lot of students might not feel safe taking safety escorts as well.”

Valdes said, “It’s alarming and it’s frustrating and it’s saddening especially. You know, waking up to news like that is never good. Sometimes it makes you question about coming to campus, whether that be during the day or at night.”

Sophomore Josie VanDenburg, a modern dance major at the U, wrote, “First, as a student who walks home from night class this just makes me feel even more uncomfortable than before about having to do that. Second, the library has always been a late-night study spot for lots of students and hearing about it happening right near there makes me worry about all the future students who study there. Third, because I walk home from evening class, I have always felt that there needed to be more emergency buttons around campus and I hope that this incident, though tragic, will make the university push even more to make more safety procedures and help in place.”

VanDenburg continued, “Lastly I am actually very proud of the university for taking this very seriously and being very open in public about what is going on because it puts more trust in the actions of the authorities on campus.”

According to Watkins, “Safety remains a top priority on our campus,” and “we are committed to providing resources and education to combat interpersonal violence and fostering a safe and supportive campus community.”

The Utah Legislature recently passed a bill requiring public universities to craft campus safety plans spelling out the rights of victims of sexual assault, stalking, dating violence or domestic violence.

“I think that another thing that’s really important to keep in mind is that the campus community as a whole and a lot of the really motivated students and faculty that we have do so much to try to help this situation and remedy this situation,” Valdes added.

“We have so many dedicated men and women who are working towards ending sexual assault on campus. We have great dedicated faculty and University administrators that do see the problem and they don’t want to keep pushing it under the rug, which I think is really important.”

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and several groups at the U are planning ongoing initiatives to combat sexual assault during that month.

For campus community members seeking support, Watkins provided a list of some campus offices at the U that are available.

[email protected]

@amy_loret