UT gets another report of rape first day of sexual assault awareness month

Local News

Another rape has been reported on the University of Tennessee’s campus. 

A woman who came forward to police Monday, reported she was assaulted at Reese Hall Sunday morning. This is the 7th report of rape to UTKPD investigators in the last 60 days. 

While students, male and female, put on heels and hiked up The Hill Monday in an effort to stand against sexual assault, UT police were investigating the newest allegation from the day before. Monday also marked the start of Sexual Assault Awareness month. 

Laura Bryant, Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Prevention, Training and Evaluation, said the university has numerous prevention measures in place to help reduce sexual assault on campus.

These include the Active Bystander program that teaches students to speak up when they witness sexual misconduct and the university’s commitment to the CDC’s Social-Ecological Model for prevention.

“Prevention for us starts before our students even step on campus in the fall semester. So, we start our prevention during new student orientation providing education for both our new students as well as their parents and families,” she said. 

Bryant says each case of sexual assault that takes place on campus, like the one reported on Sunday, affects her, saying, “It is always devastating to see these reports come across my desk. It doesn’t get any easier. These are lives that will forever be impacted.”

While students are trained in sexual assault prevention through programs by Vols Help Vols from the time they enter freshman orientation, the UT Police Department also offers a Rape Aggression Defense System class that students can take for course credit. The course, which is also open to the public, teaches proven-effective physical tactics that may enable victims to survive violent sexual encounters.

Corporal John Platt of UTPD and RAD instructor, says the course can help victims escape dangerous situations, which mentally helps him overcome the physical demands of his job that include being beaten in a foam suit by students in a violent encounter simulation.

“I wouldn’t take that traumatic brain injury from the punches and the kicks, if I didn’t think it was worthwhile,” says Platt. He hopes the program empowers women and helps convince them they can be successful in an assault situation. 

Platt also covered a few safety tips, if a person ever finds themselves in the situation:

  • Use your voice to make direct verbal statements, rather than simple yelling.
  • Put your phone down when going for a run, use one headphone to help you stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Change your routine occasionally. 
  • Use social media safely 
  • Don’t let people know your location.

UT offers more tips on what to do following an assault here

UT student volunteers also play a role in sexual assault prevention on campus. Student Trey Klaas works as a Vols 2 Vols Peer Health Educator and aims to help sexual assault survivors find the assistance they may be looking for.

“I am making sure people always have those resources. so, when those problems do arise, they can know where to go from there.”

Ultimately, they hope to inform students about consent, and resources available if they’re ever victims. They do events within first-year studies classes, at residence halls and at large events with different sponsors.  

Molly Graham is the President of the Vols 2 Vols student peer educators program and said news about another report highlight their efforts.

“It makes me think that our work is still needed and will likely always be needed. We, as educators, want to reach students and we want to make sure they know where the resources are,” she said. 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month at UT. To recognize this, UT’s Vols Help Vols program is hosting a number of events on campus, including the Hike the Hill in Heels event on Monday, in hopes of raising awareness for sexual misconduct.

A Title IX report shows 111 sexual misconduct reports at UTK in 2018. In 2011, there were 13.

Platt believes the uptick is due to students being more comfortable with reporting.

“Everyone should understand, they always have a place to go to. We’re going to be respectful. We’re going to listen to them, no matter which way they decide to go with it, whether they decide to press charges or not,” Platt added. 

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