Two Chicago police officers say women are most vulnerable to sexual assaults on college campuses between orientation and Thanksgiving break, a time period they call the “red zone.”
While being in this zone at SIU, there have been seven sexual assaults reported to the Department of Public Safety, according a DPS news release Wednesday, and the online daily crime log.
The department released numbers from January to Oct. 1, and two additional assaults reportedly occurred on Oct. 5 and 15.
No sexual assaults have been reported to SIU-Edwardsville’s Police Department during this time period, according to an email by SIUE’s Police Chief Kevin Schmoll on Tuesday. About 14,000 students attend SIUE and about 18,000 attend SIUC, according to the university’s 10- day enrollment figures.
Chicago Police Department officer Jack Shilney, 49, said one in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college.
“It happens to about 3 percent of men as well,” said Shilney, who created a class called College Bound Safe and Sound in May 2013 with another Chicago officer, Josh Weitzman. The class educates high school seniors and incoming college freshman about crimes that occur on campuses nationwide.
“For every [sexual assault] that happens at school, there are six that go unreported,” Shilney said. “When you think about that it’s like 20 percent of women will fall victim of sexual assault while they’re away at school, and then for every one of those women, six more are victims but they don’t ever report it.”
Maddy Sopena, a senior from Chicago studying public relations, said she knows at least five people who have been assaulted during her time at the university.
“I know a few people who have experienced assault and they haven’t reported it because they feel the university doesn’t do anything. … I feel like [police] report it and nothing ever happens,” she said. Sopena tweeted, “Outraged by the amount of sexual assault at SIU this year,” on Oct. 10, the same day an SIU Alert was released after someone reported being sexually assaulted in Mae Smith Hall on Oct. 5.
The DPS press release says the department encourages people to report all crimes immediately.
“Filing a police report will ensure that a victim receives the necessary medical treatment and evidence collection for prosecution by trained personnel,” according to the Wednesday release. “SIU police officers are trained to investigate sexual assault cases and prepare cases for prosecution.”
Sopena said there is a reason victims don’t report these crimes.
“The victims get shamed all the time; they get blamed,” she said. “People are ashamed to report these assaults, so they don’t.”
From January to Oct. 1, there have been 10 sexual assaults, five of which have occurred this semester, according to the news release. With the additional two reported after Oct. 1, there has been a total of 12 sexual assaults reported since January.
“Of the 10 cases of sexual violence, all have occurred within the residence halls,” according to the release. “Of the reported cases of sexual assault and forcible fondling in 2014, all suspects were known acquaintances. All suspects were identified.”
Sopena said she has never carried an irritant on her key chain before this semester.
“Even when I lived in the dorms, I never felt the need to clutch to a can of Mace when I walk around campus,” she said.
Shilney, who has taught his and Weitzman’s class at Kendall College in Chicago and in Highland Park, said alcohol is the No. 1 date rape drug. All sexual assault cases reported before Oct. 1 involved alcohol consumption, according to DPS’s release.
“Alcohol is the No. 1 sexual assault drug,” said Shilney, who has been working at the Chicago department for 25 years. “[Sexual assaults] are an epidemic at schools.”
There were three reported forcible fondling incidents and four sexual assaults on campus in 2013, according to the release. One fondling incident and two sexual assaults occurred in the residence halls, according to the release.
From August to Oct. 31, 2013, SIUE’s department received two reports of sexual assaults and one sexual abuse incident, according to Schmoll’s email.
“If a person can’t say no, if they are incoherent, or are in and out of consciousness and they cant say no then you take advantage of her, that’s still rape,” said Shilney, who has three children, including a 24-year-old daughter. “That seems to happen a lot, especially at frat parties. They say that if you are in a fraternity you’re times 300 more likely to perform an act of sexual assault, and girls in sororities are 74 percent more likely to become a victim of sexual assault.”