WIU Speaks Out, Takes a Stand Against Sexual Assault and Violence
January 27, 2015
MACOMB, IL — According to the Centers for Disease Control National Data on Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Violence and Stalking, nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 59 men have been raped, and more than 1 in 4 women and more than 1 in 10 men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. To combat sexual assault and other acts of sexual misconduct, Western Illinois University is taking a strong stand and speaking out.
"While Western Illinois University has had sexual assault and anti-harassment policies in place for many years, we were not doing enough, taking a strong enough stand, to tell perpetrators of assault and other acts of sexual misconduct that we will not tolerate these offenses. We provided tips and information on campus safety, but our message was 'Do not do this' and 'Do not do that,' such as 'Do not walk alone,' in regard to safety," said WIU President Jack Thomas. "While safety tips and resources certainly have a place and must be promoted, colleges and their administrators, faculty and staff must take a stronger stance against the perpetrators of sexual assault and other sexual misconduct."
"It is everyone's responsibility to ensure our campus, our community and our society as a whole is safe," he added. "Individuals need to be proactive bystanders. People need to speak up when they see, or hear about, sexual misconduct being committed. We all need to be a part of the solution."
In October, Thomas signed a proclamation with Macomb Mayor Mike Inman for the University's annual Take Back the Night Rally, but Thomas said the University and community must go far beyond a signature on a proclamation. Thomas recently completed a 30 second public service announcement for local television stations, WIU Cable Channel 3 and Western's social media outlets that reinforces the University's strong stance. In addition, a "mirror message" campaign has been established. More than 300 clings will be installed on mirrors in residence halls and other University building restrooms to share the University's message about perpetrators of violence and standing up for others. Thomas and the University's leadership team also approved a waiver of the $20 fee for the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) classes, taught by RAD-certified Office of Public Safety police officers, offered to female students, faculty and staff each fall and spring.
"Now is the time to stand up. Now is the time to speak out. Sexual assaults and other acts of sexual misconduct must end now," Thomas stated. "Perpetrators must be held accountable. They must be prosecuted. Western Illinois University will not stand by quietly. We will hold those who commit crimes of assault, rape and sexual misconduct accountable, and we will ensure that individuals who are victims of these crimes have the resources and assistance they need and deserve."
In accordance with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Western recently approved new policies that keep up with, and reinforce, evolving laws. The policies may be found at wiu.edu/vpas/policies. The new Sexual Misconduct Policy (Title IX) focuses on the prohibition of sex discrimination, which includes dating violence, domestic violence, gender harassment, discrimination based on pregnancy and parental status, sexual assault/rape, sexual harassment and stalking. The Non-Discrimination Policy prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, marital status, national origin, disability, genetic information, veteran status and any other classes protected by state or federal law.
Individuals who have been sexually assaulted or are experiencing other acts of sexual misconduct should contact the Office of Public Safety at (309) 298-1949 or WIU Title IX coordinator at (309) 298-1977 or Title-IX@wiu.edu.