Uptick in reported rapes has BSU taking action

Posted at 6:27 PM, Feb 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-25 20:34:04-05

University leaders across the nation are becoming more and more aware of underreporting when it comes to sexual assaults on campus.

With an uptick in such reported cases over the last few years at Boise State University, an effort to help prevent it from happening in the first place is underway.

While it is tough to gauge exactly how big of a problem it is on campus, it's something administrators want to get a handle on. They're joining the national trend by coming up with new ways to make victims feel more confident in coming forward.

In 2012, three rapes were reported on BSU's campus, the following year there were four such reports, with six total in 2014.

In order to remain vigilant in this effort, among other things, campus leaders hired a full time staff member who is tracking sexual based misconduct, coordinating on-site security and Boise police, as well as training staff to create an environment where it's okay to report a sexual assault.

"It's not something we're shying away from, it's something we know we need to address, and I think every college, every university in the country takes this seriously," says Greg Hahn, BSU spokesman. "It's a hard thing to talk about but you have to talk about it."

On the proactive side of things, there is a set of classes offered through the Gender Equity Center and a bystander training program in place. Plus, the topic is brought up to different groups and organizations on campus.

If a sexual assault is reported, care teams are in place to provide a reporting student with support moving forward in all different aspects of their life.

"Boise State, and a lot of universities, are going through a lot of effort to educate the students, to educate the faculty and staff on campus... to really make it an easier place to report," Hahn says.

The spokeswoman for the Women's & Children's Alliance explains why victims may choose not to go to authorities.

"Often times, it [a sexual assault] is perpetrated by someone you know, and I believe that does have an impact on people willing to come forward," says Chris Campbell-Davis with the WCA.

Survivors of sexual assault are always welcome to attend the WCA's weekly support group.

At any time, victims can contact the WCA to gain access to much needed resources. They should know they won't necessarily be encouraged to file a police report.

"We encourage our clients to make the decisions that are going to be best for their emotional healing," Campbell-Davis says.

The WCA also has free counseling and a 24-hour a day hotline for victims of sexual abuse. That number if (208) 345-7273.

During regular business hours at their administrative office located at 720 W. Washington St. in Boise, they also have a client advocate standing by for walk-in clients.