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Police department advises the student body how to cope with domestic violence and sexual assault

By BriAna Franklin
On April 11, 2013

 Prairie View's police department reports an average of four incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault in recent years. Prairie View campus police as well as Title IX coordinator, Renee A. Williams, encourage the women of Prairie View and the student body to have fun, but remain responsible.
In comparison to Prairie View's student population, the Hill experiences a reasonably low average of domestic violence and sexual assaults.
"Although our assaults average is relatively low, even one report is too many," said Lieutenant Frank Wallace.
This year may be unique to the rest as students have seemed to take a greater interest in alcohol related activities.
"This semester has been an interesting semester in terms of drinking. The issue is more so drinking irresponsibly, but also connecting drinking to sexual misconduct," said Sheelah Reed, director of public relations.
Sexual misconduct may be defined as sexual harassment both verbal and physical as well as sexual assault and any form of sexual intercourse or contact without consent.
Williams serves as the campus representative of Title IX, an initiative enacted by the U.S. Congress to eliminate sexual discrimination within any educational setting receiving federal funds.
Correctly noted as Title IX of Education Amendments of 1972, it states "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."
Thus Williams serves as one of many campus liaisons to aid sexual assault and domestic violence victims, but more importantly she represents one of the many initiatives to ensure campus safety.
"Alcohol leads to unwanted consequences," said Williams. "Drinking gives you no ability to give consent due to your impaired judgment."
Although some of the cases involve accusations by freshmen females, Williams assures that sexual assault is not limited exclusively to the newest additions to the yard.
As a word of advice to all of the young women at Prairie View Williams said, "If you are drinking or drugging remove sex out of the equation because neither will provide with a sound enough judgment to make a decision."
Williams and Wallace agreed that an estimated 90 percent of sexual assault and domestic violence cases at Prairie View involve an assaulter that the victim knows.
Sometimes cases of domestic violence and more so sexual assault can be avoided.
"Less interaction decreases the possibility," said Wallace.
Knowing your limit and familiarizing yourself with your surroundings can often times help avoid dangerous or questionable situations.
"If you are going out with someone, give yourself a deadline to be back so a friend knows to look for you," said Wallace.
More than anything both the police department and administration want students to take heed to what is going on around them and remain mindful of the information individuals like Wallace and Williams share, using it to guard themselves from possible harm.
In collaboration with the health center and Title IX initiatives at Prairie View, the police department is working to assure victims feel comfortable enough to report incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault to the right authorities.
A small but growing organization of students, Sexual Assault Advocates are selected student advocates who work closely with campus police to make a reasonably challenging experience for victims better.
"An advocate is placed with the victim from the beginning. They remain on call for a period time to accompany and assist officers from the moment a report is made," said Wallace.
The police department has taken a proactive stance to decrease all cases by providing an open relationship between them and the student body of what kind of crime is going on campus.
"In the front of the station, you can find a log of the calls made to us. You can read the blotter in The Panther, but you can also find our crime statistics on the university website," said Wallace.
Published every October, the Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Report includes information on campus security, how to report a sexual assault, fire safety, and much more.
The police department and Williams are working diligently to implement domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs to make Prairie View a safe haven for all students.

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