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UPD Speaks about Sexual Assault on Campus

USD has sent two timely warnings since Jan. 1, 2023, regarding sexual-based violence.  There is concern whether these acts are getting more frequent.

However, Bryant Jackson, the UPD Chief of Police, said that these occurrences are rare for USD. 

However, sexual assault can be confused with sexual abuse and rape. Jackson describes someone being physically attacked in a sexual way and said that sexual assault can happen to anybody. 

“Sexual assault may be defined differently between various state laws and federal definitions,” Jackson said, “While the definition may be slightly different depending on the jurisdiction of the incident, the definitions are generally similar.”

According to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) website, “sexual assault is a continuum of behaviors defined  to include sexual assaults committed by offenders who are strangers to the victim/survivor and sexual assaults committed by offenders who are known to, related by blood or marriage to or in a dating relationship with the victim/survivor.”

A victim has many options to report an incident, which you can report through UPD, Vermillion Police Department or a campus police officer. 

Jackson said their main goal is to report and investigate the incident in the most nontraumatic way for the victim. 

“UPD’s first priority is to ensure we have a victim-centered, trauma-informed approach,” Jackson said,” An officer will meet with the victim and explain the investigative process. The initial responding officer will work with the victim to collect any possible evidence and gather information about the suspect. A detective will complete a detailed trauma-informed interview with the victim. Working with the victim, the detective will complete a criminal investigation. The victim will be connected with resources and support systems that are available to them, which may include a victim’s advocate or Title IX support. The State’s Attorney’s office provides the victim with information regarding any legal process or court proceedings.”

According to Jackson, the best way to ensure your safety on campus is to download the USD Safe App if planning to walk alone around campus at night. 

“The (USD) Safe App provides a number of resources on a variety of safety topics. Houses, apartments and dorm rooms should be kept locked. This includes when you are inside your room or away from your room,” Jackson said. “Always secure your personal belongings. Prior to going out, ensure you have a plan. Go with friends you trust and protect your drink. Do not leave your drink unattended, and know your limits.” 

Another way to be proactive to others’ safety is to always be wary of your surroundings. At last resort, Jackson said to step in or report any suspicious interactions and behaviors. 

Jackson recommends looking into RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network),  the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. “You may have heard the term “bystander intervention” to describe a situation where someone who isn’t directly involved steps in to change the outcome,” Jackson said. “Stepping in may give the person you’re concerned about a chance to get to a safe place or leave the situation. You don’t have to be a hero or even stand out from the crowd to make a big difference in someone’s life.”