Rape Awareness On Campus

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A-mila West The Corsair

We have all heard rumors, but what if some were actually true?  Students and faculty should take sexual assault seriously.  Incidents do occur but there are ways to maintain safety and bring awareness to those on campus.

Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety, Hank Shirah offers preventative advice emphasizing that students should walk with a friend after dark, stay out of poorly lit areas on campus and avoid talking to strangers.

In an incident such as sexual battery or assault, campus police follow protocol on how to assess the situation.  First and foremost the victim in the situation is protected. 

Shirah said, “If there were any injuries we want to get them to the local hospital or to the emergency room to have medical care given to them.” 

Victims are also provided with a victim advocate.  Advocates are trained to assist with the psychological and physical needs of the victim.

According to Shirah, victim identity must remain unidentified until there has been an arrest and the investigation is closed. 

PSC campus police are trained to then secure the crime scene while detectives from the Escambia County Police Department crime unit collect evidence. 

“We have an agreement with them to step in a case like that (rape) and take over the investigation because I don’t have any detectives,” said Shirah. 

Evidence would commonly include DNA, clothing and hair or fibers. 

In 2009 a campus rape occurred in an outside restroom at Building 1.   Jaworski Simmons was the perpetrator and is now serving time in prison.  Students should be aware of this situation and educate themselves on how to prevent another incident like this from reoccurring.

“Since we have all these TV’s in the student center, at least if they can, put a commercial on about rape and awareness,” said Freshman Torrance Rease, 19.               

Students express strong feelings on being notified about incidents on campus.

Freshman Cristel Arrnet, 24, said, “I would feel a little betrayed if we weren’t informed about a situation like that and you would expect the whole school to be informed of those types of situations.”

PSC campus police will notify students and faculty on campus if a threat is imposed.

Assistant Director Peggy Smith said, “If there is any reason in the meantime that the students need to know that there is anything happening then we’ll figure out a way to put something out there.”

College crime information can be found on the campus website at http://pensacolastate.edu/policedepartment

“We have an obligation, we take it serious and we’re kind of behind the power curve but we’re going to get there,” said Shirah.

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