Students feel WSU PD resources are not preventing increase in sexual assault

Alcohol violation referrals increase on campus residences

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ANH NGO

From 2020-2021, dating violence increased from one to 10 cases on campus.

BRANDON WILLMAN, Evergreen reporter

Trigger warning: This article contains details about sexual assault that may be triggering for some readers. 

Editor’s note: Some sources in this article wished to be anonymous for the sake of privacy.

Reports of sexual assault and dating violence on campus property significantly increased in 2021, according to WSU’s Annual Security and Fire Report, which was released on Sept. 30. Some students believe this number is still not representative of all cases because students are hesitant to come forward with their experience to the police. 

There were seven cases of rape on campus property in 2020, which climbed to 22 in 2021, according to the report. 

“It’s disappointing that there is more sex crimes on campus, and the police departments just don’t do anything about it,” an anonymous sophomore biology major said. 

The reason for this increase may be different than what the public believes, said Dawn Daniels, WSU Police Department assistant chief.

“In the case of the report, if an individual were to come forward and say their significant other sexually assaulted them every night, it is reported as each night being an individual case. In the case of the increase in 2021, we saw one individual come forward with a case similar to that,” she said.  

These statistics are based on crimes that have been reported to the police department, but some students are confident the numbers are much higher, considering unreported cases. 

“The guy at the police department had a sexual misconduct charge, and they don’t believe anyone when they say they were sexually assaulted, that’s why no one reports it,” an anonymous junior news broadcasting major said. 

The anonymous junior broadcasting major said she knows people who have been sexually assaulted and had bad experiences with police departments, and they do not want to go through it again at WSU, she said. 

When her friend was sexually assaulted in high school, her friend reported it to her local police department, but she did not feel as though they pursued the case. Last year, when her friend was sexually assaulted again, the friend did not feel comfortable reporting it to WSU PD due to her past experience, the anonymous junior news broadcasting major said. 

The police department hopes that students will become more comfortable reporting crimes if they are given a multitude of different resources to report different crimes, according to the report. 

“We understand that not everyone is comfortable with coming directly to the police, which is why we direct them to many different sources in hopes they will talk to one. At the police department we are always willing to talk with anyone coming in to report something or ask questions,” Daniels said. 

Within the report, there are several available phone numbers that students can call to report a crime, as well as resources both on and off campus that students can report crimes in-person or anonymously, according to the report. 

“They can say they have resources available, but I won’t feel safe on campus until they start actually doing something about preventing crimes rather than having resources to report them,” an anonymous undeclared freshman said. 

WSU PD also tries to build relationships with students so that they feel more comfortable and more aware of what the department is doing to make campus safer, Daniels said. 

“We try to do as much education programming and work with outreach organizations. If we can connect with students in our time outside of the patrol cars, we see that as positive community building,” she said. 

Rape was not the only crime that increased over a three-year period at WSU. On campus property, domestic violence increased from two to six cases from 2020-2021, and dating violence increased from one to 10 cases in 2021, according to the report. 

Outside of sex and dating crimes, alcohol violations also increased in 2021, according to the report. 

From 2020-2021, alcohol law violation referrals in on-campus property increased from 127-307. Daniels said this increase is likely a result of people returning to campus and not necessarily an increase in drinking. 

In all of the 2021 calendar year, there was a singular fire on campus due to an electrical problem in Chief Joseph apartments, according to the report.

“We always continue to reassess and reevaluate what we are doing to prevent crimes and what is needed to become better equipped to prevent crime,” Daniels said.