UA's rape-prevention programs above national norms

By Ariel Serafin
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, January 20, 2006

Study examines school sexual- assault programs

More than 90 percent of sexual assault victims knew their assailant, and new statistics show that over a five-year college tenure, there is a 20 percent chance that a woman will become the victim of rape.

A new publication in the U.S. Department of Justice's

December 2005 publication, "Sexual Assault on Campus: What Colleges and Universities are Doing About It," compares the rape occurrence, treatment and prevention program and policy statistics of almost 2,500 schools across the country. It found only eight schools had "promising practices" in addressing sexual assault on campus.

The study found only about one-fourth of schools provide residence hall staff with safety training, have security staff on duty in the residence halls, or require overnight guests to register. Although this lack of training and security may be the norm nationally, University of Arizona Police Department Officer Andrew Valenzuela said the UA is an exception.

The UAPD works in conjunction with UA Residence Hall Association and attempts to get as many halls as possible involved in safety fairs and resident assistant training sessions, Valenzuela said.

Additionally, residence halls and fraternity "liaison police officer" programs have been instituted to encourage communication and education between the campus community and the police department to increase security, Valenzuela said.

"They're not being singled out for any reason besides that they house students and contain the people that (the UAPD) serves," Valenzuela said.

The UA is also part of the about 40 percent of colleges nationwide that offers any sexual assault training to staff and students, according to the Department of Justice's study.

Valenzuela said freshman and new-student orientations offer advice on preventing sexual assault, and various safety presentations throughout the year like the Safety Fair are also intended to empower and educate students.

Tina Tarin, violence prevention specialist at the OASIS Program for Sexual Assault and Relationship

Violence, said OASIS works year-round teaching sexual assault prevention techniques and advocating for and counseling victims.

OASIS also provides self-defense courses each semester, and Tarin recommends interested students sign up for the classes scheduled Feb. 4 and 11.

UA women may also be shocked to learn that they are statistically more likely to become victims of sexual assault than their non-college-attending peers.

Tarin said the increased instance of sexual violence is a result of many variables that come with moving away to college. Experimentation with drugs and alcohol, in addition to student carelessness stemming from moving away from home for the first time, are factors that

contribute to their likelihood of being victims of assault.

Tarin said although college women have heard the same safety advice their entire lives, they needed to realize the importance of being aware of their surroundings, travel in groups and designate a friend to watch over anyone who may be under the influence.

However, Tarin also wants UA men to remember the importance of holding friends accountable for their actions, a nd keeping an eye on women who seem susceptible to being victimized by peers.

"Imagine that that woman is your sister or girlfriend," Tarin said. "Because that woman is (probably) someone (else's) sister or girlfriend."