Community Protocol for Sexual Assault Victims

STORY BY DANIEL SAENZ

On February 14th, it was reported that 23-year-old Tre Carrasco was apprehended in Aurora, Colorado. Carrasco was on the run on the run from the police after being identified as a suspect in an alleged sexual assault that occurred on February 3rd at 400 block of West 7th street in Hays. This incident came only two days after Carrasco was released from prison after serving time for another sexual assault case in 2011.

Cases like these are certainly tragic and warrant a worthwhile discussion on the traumas that such actions leave and the psychology behind these crimes. However, given the fact that the alleged assault took place in an area so close to campus, it raises questions about the protocols that are normally taken to respond to such crimes?

Ed Howell has been the Chief of Police at Fort Hays State for 14 years. In terms of notifications, he pointed out that the campus police department only sends out a notification to people on campus when there is an ongoing continuous threat to the community on campus. For this very reason, all students and faculty were notified about the alleged rape that took place on 7th street as it was so close in proximity to campus.

“Once someone is enrolled at FHSU, they are automatically included in these notifications which include a text, email, and voicemail,” Howell said. “The emergency only becomes a campus issue when the intent of the individual is unclear and his/her proximity to campus.”

If and when the victim is a student, what happens then? What sort of resources does the university provide? Dr. Teresa L. Clounch, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Title IX Coordinator here at Fort Hays State, gave an in-depth explanation of such resources. If a student wants to report that they have been sexually assaulted, they provide a set report to the Office of Student Affairs who will also make the student aware of the campus health center. The Office of Student Affairs also asks the student how they can ensure their safety and what care they might need from the student health center or Hays Medical Center.

Victims can also participate in the advocate program where they can talk to someone who will act as their advocate and be with them through the entire process. Amy Schaffer, the Title IX Investigator at FHSU also reaches out to them to make them aware of options such as the Kelly Center. Once the student in question has been made aware of the various options, Schaffer then asks how they would like to proceed and if they would like to proceed with an investigation.

“The main part is that we want to make sure that the student is aware of the options, such as getting to the health center or the hospital,” Schaffer said. “The Kelly Center is available and finding an advocate so that they can know who they are talking to and be able to process and get the care they need.”

Overall, whenever a sexual assault takes place in our community, it is quite disheartening. Being a part of Fort Hays, we naturally hope that everyone on campus has access to the resources to ensure their safety. It is important to remember that students, faculty, and staff at FHSU have such access with both the Title IX Coordinator and head of the Police Department on campus.

FHSU University Police can be contacted at 785-628-5304. Calls outside of office hours can be made at 785-625-1011.

In case of an emergency, always dial 911.

Dr. Clounch can be reached at 785-628-5824 while Amy Schaffer can be reached at 785-628-4175.

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