URBANA — Following three Campus Safety Notices informing campus of sexual assault incidents early in the fall semester, the University of Illinois Police Department wants to remind students, faculty and staff of the resources available to anyone who has been affected by sexual violence.
Sexual assault is a significant concern on college campuses across the country, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is no exception. National surveys estimate that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men will experience sexual assault or attempted sexual assault during their undergraduate years.
The university has made a number of reporting options available for anyone who has decided they are ready to do so. The At Illinois, We Care website at wecare.illinois.edu outlines those options in detail.
The At Illinois, We Care website also provides confidential resources for those who are seeking help but would like to do without risk of being publicly identified.
“The community needs to reinforce that every form of sexual violence is unacceptable, and that’s a culture shift taking place right now,” said University of Illinois Police Chief Jeff Christensen. “Our students took that upon themselves with the It’s On Us campaign, and we as a police department want to support survivors however possible.”
UIPD has established a Special Victims Unit comprised of detectives who are trained to deal with the nuances of sexual assault investigations and to interact with survivors so as to not reinforce the trauma they have already experienced. Other officers in the department are trained regarding their responsibilities when responding to a sexual assault.
The department continues to work closely with campus and community groups like the Women’s Resources Center, Counseling Center, Courage Connection, R.A.C.E.S. and the Champaign County State’s Attorney’s office to ensure those who report sexual assault are offered the resources they may need.
With more options for reporting, police are hoping more survivors reach out to either confidential or non-confidential resources provided by the university and the community.
“Our community is here to support survivors,” Christensen said. “As the culture shifts, we would expect reporting of sexual assault to increase, and that will allow us to help those who may be in need.”