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Berquam: Be aware of sexual assault information, resources

April 10, 2013

Dean of Students Lori Berquam emailed students on Wednesday April 10 about the importance of sexual assault resources, statistics and prevention during April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month. A version of her message is below.

“Every year, the University of Wisconsin System is required by state law to provide a report from all System campuses outlining its response to sexual assault. This document includes the various educational, preventative and reporting measures associated with sexual assault that UW–Madison has introduced, as well as the number of sexual assaults reported by students to university staff members during the previous year.

Photo: Berquam


Photo: Bryce Richter

The complete UW–Madison report for this past year, 2012, is posted on the Division of Student Life page.

The numbers in the report tell only a partial story. Sexual assault is a significantly under-reported crime.  Research indicates that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 college women nationwide experience sexual assault while in college, and many men also experience sexual victimization.   

The report sheds light on two important factors that can aid in prevention and understanding. The majority of instances of sexual assault involve the use of drugs or alcohol. Additionally, assaults by acquaintances take place at a much higher rate than those perpetrated by a stranger.

To prevent and respond to issues of sexual assault and dating violence, as well as encourage meaningful discussion about consent, UW–Madison continues to develop new ways to educate its students and other members of the campus community. One key method is an online video entitled “Tonight.” This tutorial seeks to empower students to make decisions that can help keep them safe. It also offers suggestions for approaching difficult situations, including ways in which bystanders can intervene. This interactive program was developed with extensive input from UW–Madison students, staff and community victim service providers to help make UW–Madison a safer campus for everyone.

UW-Madison also continues to engage in community partnerships that assist student survivors of sexual violence, including a longstanding relationship with the Rape Crisis Center.

Sometimes a sexual assault goes unreported because of concern from a survivor who may have been consuming alcohol. The university is dedicated to removing such barriers to reporting, and adheres to a set of Responsible Action Guidelines, which state that “In those cases where a student has been a victim of sexual assault and/or a violent crime while under the influence of alcohol, neither the Dean of Students, University Housing nor UW–Madison Police will pursue disciplinary actions against the student victim (or a witness) for his or her improper use of alcohol (e.g., underage drinking). A student victim who is under the influence of alcohol at the time of a sexual assault is entitled to university and community assistance and encouraged to seek help.” 

Sexual assault, dating violence and nonconsensual encounters can affect every member of the UW–Madison community, and these incidents are of great concern.  By educating students, encouraging reporting and supporting survivors, we can all contribute to make the UW–Madison community a safer place for everyone.

If you are a survivor or know someone who has been sexually assaulted, know that we are here to help. Please make the call to one of the following resources:

  • University Health Services (for physical and mental health services): 265-5600 or Rape Crisis Center: 251-RAPE
  • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (at Meriter Hospital): 417-5916
  • UW Police: 264-2677
  • Madison Police: 266-4275