The University of Wyoming received a report early Sunday morning of a sexual assault on campus.
UW sent out an all-student, all-employee email later that day warning members of the UW community about an ongoing threat of criminal activity and asking for anyone with information about the alleged assault to contact the UW Police Department.
“University police were informed early this morning that a female victim was walking across the (East Stadium) parking lot on Friday night when an unknown suspect tackled the victim and sexually assaulted her,” the email reads. “At this time, the victim in this case wishes to remain anonymous. Evidence has been collected in the event the victim elects to make a formal report at a later time.”
The report was made by an acquaintance or acquaintances of the victim, said Chad Baldwin, UW director of institutional communications.
“It would be nice for us to say we have a description of the assailant and so forth, but this is not a direct report from the victim, and so we don’t have that information,” Baldwin said.
A survivor might choose not to report or not to press charges for a number of reasons, said Lindsey Hanlon, prevention and outreach specialist for Albany County SAFE Project.
“A survivor might be trying to put it all behind them and they don’t really want to dwell on the matter — they don’t really want to pursue the matter further because they’re just trying to get past it,” Hanlon said. “They might fear reprisal, depending on who the perpetrator is.”
She added survivors might not want certain people to hear about what happened or be dissuaded from pressing charges by stigmas that still exist against survivors of sexual assault.
“They might not entirely trust the legal system, or they might not trust the police department, or they might not believe the legal system or police department would be able to do anything to help them,” Hanlon said. “A lot of times, it’s just a desire to keep things private, a desire to make sure they’re the only ones who know their situation.”
SAFE is a victim-advocacy organization and one of many resources shared in the all-campus email.
Also listed as resources are the STOP Violence Program, the University Counseling Center, Student Health Service, Dean of Students Office and the Equal Opportunity Report and Response office.
UW is required by the Jeanne Clery Act of 1990 to notify campus about serious crimes and other dangerous situations occurring on campus — such as severe weather — with timely warnings or emergency notifications.
Timely warnings, such as the all-campus email, “are disseminated when serious crimes occur or the threat of ongoing criminal acts may be repeated on campus,” according to the email itself.
The email also addresses the perception on the part of some students that sexual assault is becoming more common on the UW campus.
“The recent increase in timely warning messages to campus regarding sexual assault does not necessarily reflect an increase in incidents, but rather an increase in reports,” the email states.
“Colleges and universities across the country are seeing increases in reports.”