Possible sexual assault stuns northern campusA small campus in a small northern Wisconsin town is trying to come to terms with an alleged sexual assault over the weekend. Mike Simonson reports.
By: By Mike Simonson/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
A small campus in a small northern Wisconsin town is trying to come to terms with an alleged sexual assault over the weekend. Mike Simonson reports.
Even if everyone thought “it can’t happen here,” the college was ready to respond.
Between 2008 and 2010, statistics from the U.S. Department of Education shows only one crime reported at Northland College, and that was a motor vehicle theft. Campus statistics going back five years show no reports of sexual assaults. This campus of 600 students on Lake Superior in Ashland is a safe place. But on Friday night, a student says she was sexually assaulted.
Northland College Student Association President Madeline Jarvis says students are still processing it.
“So we are all still trying to get our bearings and support each other through this rough time,” she said
Without giving details, College President Mike Miller says even though the alleged offender is still at large, students are safe. So they immediately focused on the victim.
“There was a very thorough, caring, professional response to the person who reported the alleged assault, her needs cared for as we should,” he said.
Student Affairs Vice-President Michele Meyer says sexual assault can happen anywhere, even in a small town like Ashland. So they give a heads up to incoming students.
“If they can see there’s less people, it’s easy to make the assumption that it’s a safe place,” Meyer said. “We really talk with students about what are the things that can make it safer? Using our campus escort service, making sure you’re walking with friends, keeping your room and your vehicle locked.”
Meyer says the Penn State sexual assault scandal has brought more awareness. That helped.
“It lets people know these are the kind of situations you need to bring to somebody’s attention, so that maybe the thing that happened to you, doesn’t happen to anybody else,” she said.
Student President Jarvis says the Penn State case is a lesson to everyone, including perhaps, the victim: “We really do commend the student on the student’s bravery. It’s not always an easy thing to speak up when you have been wronged, especially in a small community.”
Officials do say the suspect was not a stranger to the victim. Ashland police are also investigating the incident.