SIU Tackling Violence on Campus

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By Amy Fox
By Andy Shofstall

CARBONDALE --  SIU kicked off another semester Monday. As fall classes start, campus police are teaming with staff and students for a new effort to stop sexual assault and other violence on campus. It's part of a federal law enacted earlier this year.

This week, about 9,000 people at SIU will go through a course on how to report and stop violence on campus. For the first time, faculty will participate. SIU Police say they're taking a powerful stand against crimes like sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking.

This wasn't your average SIU class.  Monday, students and faculty met to learn how to address violence on campus.

"We want SIU to be a place that people look at and say, 'I want to go to SIU because it's a safe campus.' We understand there are problems and there are things that happen at SIU, but we also want people to know there are resources available," said Sgt. Chad Beights, SIU Police Department.

Under the Violence Against Women Act re-authorization, colleges and universities are required to take a closer look at their policies and practices regarding sexual violence on campus.  For SIU, that meant examining reporting requirements for faculty and staff.

Sgt. Beights said, "People who are a victim of a crime, they don't report it to the police. A lot of times, they are scared to. They don't know how to. They don't feel comfortable talking to a police officer. Their first point of contact is going to be someone they trust."

"It's something that they all need to know because you never know when someone will approach you with a problem that they're having, whether it be a student, a staff member, faculty or otherwise," said Steve Buhman, SIU staff member.

This presentation helped explain what to do when approached by a victim.

Buhman said, "Your job is to basically to report, and to find out what happened and let that person describe it and to use that description, how that person describes it, as the part of the report that you're turning in, not what you think happened."

"What we're working on is creating an environment that's safe for everyone, safe for you, safe for students, safe for the employees and if we can all act together, all work together, we can create that environment," said Sgt. Beights.

Each faculty or staff member was given two brochures. If a student reports a problem, this brochure has all of the steps a faculty or staff member needs to help. The student is also given a brochure to take with them. There will be ongoing training and programs across campus this year.

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