Tempe sexual assaults more than double in past year

ASU’s annual security report, released Monday, included a significant rise in number of sexual offense cases.

The 2011 school year revealed more than a 225 percent leap in forcible sexual offenses on the Tempe campus, with four documented cases in 2010 and 13 incidents last year.

There was little difference in any other campus crime statistics.

Wellness and Health Promotion Director Karen Moses said students are more likely to report incidents because they are becoming more educated about the value of consent and the severity of sexual violence.

Students differed on whether these numbers reflect a growing willingness to report sexual assaults or an actual rise in the frequency of the assaults.

Global politics sophomore Yonit Upart said she believed the assault rate is rising.

“The rise of sexual assault on campus is inevitable with an increase in the student population and the lack of a fine line in defining sexual assault,” she said.

However, random sample surveys indicate there is not an increase in sexual assault cases, Moses said. This signifies that students are making an effort to report attacks, she said.

According to a campus sexual assault study, 98 percent of incidents involving sexual assault go unreported.

The spring 2011 administration of the National College Health Assessment at ASU indicates that 3.2 percent of female students and 0.6 percent of male students reported having experienced sexual assaults within the previous year.

ASU Counseling Services continue to promote the EMPACT hotline, a line meant for student mental health emergencies.

“ASU provides critical and timely support to victims of sexual violence,” Moses said.

The Polytechnic campus also saw a rise in sexual assault cases, with four incidents in 2011. There were no documented cases in recent years.

The Downtown and West campuses experienced no reported rise in sexual offense cases.

Sexual assault for students in college is commonly associated with alcohol consumption or date rape drugs.

Moses said national studies reveal that the offender, victim or both are intoxicated in more than half of sexual assault incidents.

The security report revealed more than 500 liquor law arrests of students on the Tempe campus.

Marketing freshman Nicole Foster said she believes the rise in sexual assault numbers stems mainly from alcohol consumption and carelessness.

“Most students don’t know all the dangers present on any university,” Foster said. “If we did, these numbers would be a lot lower.”

Upart said common sense is imperative to protect against sexual assaults.

“The only way to help prevent sexual violence not just in college, but anywhere is knowing basic self defense skills … knowing my boundaries,” she said.

 

Reach the reporter at mkthomp5@asu.edu