Sept. 14, 2015
Over the past few years, UCCS’ student population has grown at a steady rate. With this growth in students can come the risk of higher crime rates, including sexual assault.
Parents of college students often worry about their child’s safety, but for parents of freshmen, the anxiety may be a bit higher.
Rachel Birnstiehl, freshman pre-nursing major, shared how safe she feels since arriving on campus.
“I do feel safe for many reasons. There are so many things on campus that reassure me. There is almost always campus security or some form of officer in sight,” she said. “Not to mention there are self-defense classes and things like that are available.”
Lt. Marc Pino has been working at UCCS for 11 years. He said there are a low number of crime reports on campus, including reports of sexual assault.
“We have a fairly low crime rate compared to those [universities] close to our size. Our crimes are ones of opportunity – someone leaving their door propped open, snagging a bag,” Pino said.
In annual reports, there was one sexual offence reported in 2011 that was revealed due to a 2013 external audit and three that occurred in 2013, one of which happened in 2012 but was not reported until 2013.
UCCS helps to prevent crimes of sexual assault by giving students access cards for the dorms. Students cannot access student housing without living in the building.
Students can call Public Safety to escort them to their class or dorm and campus emergency phones are available to anyone on campus and glow blue so they are easy to find.
“Our biggest thing is getting the victim help, the counseling and health center has preventive care. The offender is secondary,” Pino said.
It is mandatory for campus employees to report sexual assault if told about it. But the counseling and health centers remain a confidential resource for students.
The university also offers a Rape Aggression Defense class free of charge. RAD is a hands-on self-defense and risk education class that is only offered to women. The program also offers a free lifetime return and practice guarantee anywhere the program is offered.
Students who are interested in joining the program may contact Steve Dewey, Corporal and RAD instructor at 719 255-5931 or Pino, Police Lt. and RAD Instructor at 719-255- 5919.
A piece of clothing that has been released is anti-rape underwear. Created by AR Wear, the anti-rape underwear offers protection for women who go out clubbing, are traveling or walking home late at night.
AR Wear’s goal is to offer material that strengthens specific elements of already existing garments and is resistant to pull and tear while being as comfortable as regular underwear.
Birnstiehl thinks selling the AR Wear anti-rape underwear on campus is a good idea.
“I think it would be beneficial to those who are afraid of being sexually harassed or have been previously. It’s definitely good to have that option available,” she said.
“The only issue I could see is someone being embarrassed to buy them, but they could be changed by having a confidential system in place to protect their identities.”
Also, a fingernail polish has been created to help prevent date rape by allowing the wearer to see when their drink has been tampered with and a date rape drug added.
Pino offered advice for students on what they can do to prevent rape and assaults.
“Any self-defense product should not be used as a crutch. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings, don’t leave friends at a party and just use smarts.”
“Pretending that there is no problem when it happens is not a good response,” he said.
Students can look up crime prevention tips on the Public Safety website, www.uccs.edu/~pusafety, including what to do if you are being followed.
Some tips include changing direction, heading in a direction where there are many people, such as the library or University Center, and to walk briskly.
To protect against sexual assault, Public Safety suggests that students never let strangers into their room or apartment, to always check the back seat of your car before entering and not to give out information to strangers.
Any crime or suspicious activity should be reported to UCCS police at 719-255-3111.