Reported cases of sexual assault on the rise

Story by Katlyn Mackie, Staff writer


The number of sexual assaults reported at Murray State have risen in the last two years.

A law passed in 1990, the Clery Act, requires all universities to keep statistics on a calendar year. In 2015, there were 13 reported sexual assaults on campus.

Preliminary numbers for 2016 show there were 15 reports. Ten were reported to the office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) and five were reported to the Murray State Police.  

So far in 2017, there have been five reports of sexual assault. Two were reported to IDEA and three were reported to Murray State Police.

James Herring, chief of Murray State Police, said the first step to combating sexual assault is to encourage victims to report.

“We as a police department and university can do that by creating an environment in which the victims feel safe coming forward,” Herring said. “If we provide the appropriate resources to take the person from victim to survivor, we could reach our goal of having no unreported sexual assaults.”

Herring said the second step to combating sexual assault is to create an environment where people don’t commit sexual assault.

He said that is much more difficult, but it should still be the focus in the long run.

Abigail French, Women’s Center coordinator, said in working with students who are considering reporting, there seems to be more awareness regarding reporting options and support services – like advocacy and counseling.

“Generally, an increased awareness of options and resources leads to less of stigma because awareness reduces uncertainty and fear,” French said.

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s office for Civil Rights (OCR), Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

Title IX 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.”

Victims of sexual assault can call or go to the Murray State Police Department (270-809-2222), the office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Access (270-809-3155) or any campus security authority.