LCCC focuses on sexual assault prevention

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Graphic by Christopher Edwards

Laramie County Community College had a total of five reported crimes of sexual misconduct since 2014 to 2016, according to the latest Campus Safety and Security Clery Report.

The Jeanne Clery Act is a federal statute requiring colleges and universities participating in federal financial aid programs to maintain and disclose campus crime statistics and security information. The Clery Report shows statistics for many crimes, including such sexual misconduct crimes as rape, fondling, incest and statutory rape.

LCCC only had two reports of fondling in 2014, three reports of fondling in 2015 and no reports of any crimes of sexual misconduct in 2016.

LCCC officials said they take several measures to prevent crimes of sexual misconduct on campus.

“It’s pretty tough to avoid the conversation of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct on our campus,” Judy Hay, vice president of Student Services and LCCC’s Title IX coordinator, said.

Hay said that LCCC provides sexual harassment training to all new and returning students with the Not Anymore course.

Hay said that student leaders receive additional training in reporting and recognizing situations involving sexual misconduct.

“When you have more and earlier reporting of incidents,” Hay said, “the theory at the national level is, you’re stopping things earlier or you’re making the conversation much more of a normal conversation on your campus.”

Campus Safety and Security director James Crosby said that LCCC has members of the security team on patrol all hours of the day and every day of the year, even when there are campus closures due to inclement weather.

“We do periodic, closed patrols both of the exterior and interior of the residence halls,” Crosby said.

Crosby said that there are also cameras in the commons area of the residence halls and the director of residence life has access to the cameras.

Assistant Director of Campus Safety Juan Maldonado said that LCCC has 236 total cameras covering the campus and 10 strategically placed call boxes that can be used to contact Campus Safety during an emergency.

Director of Residential Living Travis Gabriel said the residence hall advisors work within the floors and directly with the students to look out for concerns. Gabriel said that one-on-one interactions between students is the best way to start conversations on rape culture.

LCCC also offers resources on campus for victims of sexual harassment.

Hay said that LCCC offers counseling with counselors trained in victim advocacy. Hay also said students have access to community resources with a team of nurses at the hospital trained in sexual assault and victim advocacy with the sheriff and police department.

“I hope that students take advantage of any of that we can possibly offer them,” Hay said.

Hay also said victims of sexual assault can also go to law enforcement and get access to advocacy even if they choose to not report and file charges.

Hay said that the lighting on the LCCC campus has improved over the years and that it was a specific focus of the college to improve lighting, including during construction phases, Hay said.

Hay discussed how students could keep themselves safe from sexual assault and harassment.

“Statistically, people are most at risk when there is drugs and alcohol involved,” Hay said. “That would be my primary advice, is be safe around alcohol. Always have someone who vows to stay sober and to watch over you.”

Hay said it’s always important to keep sober people in the room to prevent people who make bad decisions from making bad decisions.

Maldonado said to always be aware of your surroundings when traveling at night. His advice was to let someone know where you are going, your travel time, and how long you plan on spending in that location and to always walk with friends and stay in well-lit areas. Maldonado said to also carry yourself with confidence.

Crosby said it’s important to be wary of surroundings when walking alone at night. “Predators can pretty well spot people based on body language,” he said.

Crosby said he encourages students and employees to put the mobile number for campus safety (307-630-0645) on speed dial and that anyone can call the number any time of the day and any day of the year.

Crosby said that if a student has a concern with getting from one place to another on campus, they can call the cell number and a security team member will come and escort them to where they are going.

Gabriel said it’s important for students to know their rights, their ability to communicate their rights and to have an understanding of what is not OK when interacting with other students.

Gabriel also said it is important to recognize when a situation is uncomfortable and to have the confidence to speak up in that situation.

Hay said that LCCC’s Title IX workers have to keep up current with their training and that the college hosts an annual statewide training.

Hay also said that LCCC has been instrumental in stepping up the conversation on Title IX requirements across the state.

“I think people are safer than they were in 2011 when this journey started,” Hay said.

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