Proactive Approach for Assault Cases Paying Off At ISU

Published 07/16 2014 05:54PM

Updated 07/16 2014 06:28PM

NORMAL - A new, anonymous report on 350 U.S. colleges and universities says 40 percent of those schools of higher learning are ignoring reports of sexual assault.

But, for one local university, counseling services and a key hire are working together to make a difference in student life.

Illinois State University wants to make sure its students are safe and feel safe. That is evident with the hiring of an investigator about three years ago.

He can't go on camera, but we've talked with the university about his close relationship with a social services counselor and ISU's ethics officer. They have incoming freshmen go through online education courses, complete with resources and references, to let them know they're not alone.

"Because the investigator is more visible, the services we provide victims are more visible, that it's made a person more comfortable to come forward,” said Shane McCreery, director of the office equal opportunity, ethics and access at ISU.

Plus, residence halls and all campus buildings have signs urging students to ask for help if they've been violated and more than 20 blue-light emergency phones are set up all across campus to encourage students to report any crimes to the police. All the efforts seem to be working.

“I think they're reporting more,” said Gail Trimpe-Morrow, counselor, and sexual assault prevention and survivor services coordinator. “I think survivors feel validated that the university does take this seriously."

But they realize there's always work to be done.

"Still, there are many students that don't talk to anybody. They're embarrassed, they're afraid,” said Trimpe-Morrow.

Trimpe-Morrow has hopes her position may not be needed in the future.

“My goal is for my position to not be needed, that this isn't relationship, violence, stalking, sexual assault is not an issue that we're continuing to have to deal with,” said Trimpe-Morrow.

ISU's investigator is an attorney who specializes in Title IX and Affirmative Action.

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