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Dean of students ready to help sexual-assault victims

March 5, 2009 By John Lucas

Lori Berquam is UW–Madison’s dean of students. She made a version of the following statement available to student newspapers and the campus community in response to an alleged incident of sexual assault in UW–Madison’s Greek community.


Despite the efforts of students, faculty and staff, sexual assault remains an extremely serious concern on the UW–Madison campus and at many others around the nation.

As dean of students, I hope more victims find the strength to come forward for support and counseling. To promote this, I want to clarify the role of my office in supporting and advocating for victim of sexual assault.

The Offices of the Dean of Students (ODOS) and all the staff and faculty at UW–Madison have a deep commitment to creating a safe and healthy campus community. Every incident of sexual assault impacts our university and breaches the trust that bonds us as a community. Survivors of sexual assaults often spend the rest of their lives trying to come to terms with the horrendous violence committed against them. Let me state very clearly: Physical and sexual assault of any kind will not be tolerated at this institution.

If you have been the victim of sexual assault, there is help for you. Nationally, on college campuses, only about 5 percent of all sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement.

If you are dealing with this issue, I would urge you to contact Student Advocacy and Judicial Affairs office by calling 263-5700, visiting this site or coming to 75 Bascom Hall.

Victims may also seek help from University Health Services, the University Police Department or the Dane County Rape Crisis Center, which has a campus office location on the seventh floor of the new University Square building.

I am fortunate to have a compassionate, professional and experienced staff that can provide a range of other services for students and connect them to resources on and off campus that will help them cope with their experience. You can receive assistance with academics, counseling or your own personal safety.

Our staff can also discuss options for a disciplinary investigation. We take allegations of assault — especially sexual assault — extremely seriously and investigate them thoroughly, when given permission by a victim.

A victim — who already faces a difficult and challenging road recovering from the experience — has control over how he or she chooses to interact with the office. It is entirely voluntary to pursue any or all of the above options, including a criminal, judicial or student organization complaint, when appropriate.

It is also important to note that the accused has rights to due process under our judicial code, and we cannot pursue anonymous allegations. A victim’s choice allows us to go forward.

In addition to support for survivors, the university is taking steps to proactively address sexual assault issues. A recent $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will further develop our unified campus-community response to sexual assault. Campus organizations like PAVE are extremely active and working with student organizations, including our Greek community.

To give you an opportunity to learn about the resources available and to provide an opportunity for you as students to tell us how we can better respond to these situations, we are planning a forum to discuss sexual assault issues at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10, in 1121 Humanities.

Representatives from the campus and community will answer questions and share their perspectives.

I hope you will stand with me in solidarity to eradicate this senseless violence from our campus.

If you have questions or would like more information, please e-mail me at