May 16, 2022

Sexual assault follow-ups and HEART’s response

This archived article was written by: Christopher Palo

With the news of the recent sexual assaults on USU Eastern’s campus fresh in  everyone’s minds, students are left wondering how future events like this can be prevented.   
Madison Woodward, president of the H.E.A.R.T. club on campus, asked that question and found out the answers herself. H.E.A.R.T stands for Helping Everyone At Risk Together. This club is dedicated to keeping campus safe, free and enjoyable for everyone who attends.  
Woodward, with the help of her two vice-presidents, drafted a series of question that was presented to Chancellor Joe Peterson. These questions were comprised of what steps the university would take to ensure the future safety of its students. 
On Sept. 14 at noon, Woodward and associates presented the questions to the chancellor in the Jennifer Leavitt Student Center conference room. “The chancellor is 100 percent on board with the safety of the students,” Woodward said, though some students felt that the dissemination of information was sluggish and that faster news delivery would better prepare the students. 
Some of the possibilities for future prevention of assaults, that were discussed were pepper spray and buttons that make very loud sounds to attract attention to the situation and a video training class. This class will be taken by all freshmen and is about an hour long. It has the hopes of informing students about the dangers of certain situations and it gives tips on how to protect themselves.  
These new potential security measures may help and they may be implemented in the spring semester or the next school year.
A security measure already in place is a program called Title IX. Title IX is an office that any person, student, teacher or staff can contact when they have been harassed or assaulted.  
This program is managed in the Reeves building room 178 by human resources specialist, Tammy Auberger. She treats every situation with the utmost seriousness and discretion. 
Upon request of services, the victim is informed of their rights and asked if a formal investigation is requested. Whether or not a formal investigation is asked for, the victim is advised to speak with Darrin Brandt, the counseling center director in the JLSC. 
If a formal investigation is asked for, the investigators from Utah State University in Logan come and investigate and the Chancellor is the ultimate judge of what happens. 
“They are very level handed for both sides of the investigation,” Brandt adds. Because false reports are an unfortunate but real possibility, the situation has to be handled fair and evenly, not to accuse until proven guilty. 
“[Title IX is] set apart from outside influences,” Brandt added. This allows for again neutral investigations of the incident free from any predetermined conceptions that might sway the findings unjustly one way of the other. 
During the investigation, the two parties in the investigation cannot communicate, not even through a third party. To do so would violate the terms of the investigation and likely end in suspension from campus.   
Overall how the school responded was widely accepted as being very good. Within a very short amount of time of the incident, a Code Blue alert was issued and an email was sent out to all students and faculty.  
This Code Blue alert allowed students to be on alert and for other victims to come forward. Often times, if one victim has the courage to come forward and report what happened, other victims might do the same and get the help both mentally and physically that they need. 
These events are happening through the country at colleges and universities. A well-informed student body and well prepared student body and staff could make the difference between it happening again and not. 
In the military there are two different types of targets, a soft target and a hard target. A soft target is something that is easily breached and overtaken, a hard target is a fortified and well-defended target.  
Though in an ideal world none of these instances would occur, but even with all the classes and preparation in the world there are sick individuals out there that will try. So be a hard target. Make the assailant think twice about trying to attack you. Take all the training and tips seriously, and don’t put yourself in situations that might compromise your safety and above all else look out for one another. 

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