Wyoming community colleges see decrease in sexual misconduct reports since 2015

There were a total of 12 sexual misconduct crimes reported across the seven Wyoming community colleges in 2016, and nine of them were reports of rape, according to a national 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 sexual misconduct crimes like rape, fondling, incest and statutory rape.

Twelve reported crimes is down from 2015, when 22 reports were made at the community colleges, with 11 of the reports being for rape.

In 2016, the Northern Wyoming Community College District had the highest number of sexual harassment crime reports with six incidents of rape. The Northern Wyoming Community College District houses Sheridan College and Gillette College with a total of 3,988 students between the two campuses.

Each community college has its own preventative measures put in place to help keep students safe and programs to help victims of sexual harassment to potentially bring down the number of incidents on their campus.

Wingspan attempted to contact representatives at every community college to find out what each college does to prevent sexual misconduct crimes.

Laramie County Community College: 4,118 students.

LCCC had zero incidents of sexual harassment reported in 2016 and had three incidents of forcible fondling in 2015.

Officials at LCCC discussed the preventative measure the college takes to prevent incidents of sexual harassment crimes.

Vice President of Student Services and LCCC’s Title IX coordinator Judy Hay said that LCCC provides sexual harassment training to all new and returning students with the Not Anymore course. Hay also said that student leaders receive additional training in reporting and recognizing situations involving sexual harassment.

Campus Safety and Security director James Crosby said that LCCC has members of the security team on patrol all hours of the day, every day of the year.

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 advisers 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.

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.

Northern Wyoming Community College District: 3,988 students.

The Northern Wyoming Community College District (NWCCD) houses both Gillette and Sheridan community colleges and had a total of six reports of rape in 2016, three on each campus.

Officials at NWCCD commented on the safety measures they have in place to keep their students safe.

Cheryl Heath, vice president for Administration and Title IX coordinator, said that NWCCD offers programming starting with orientation with students and faculty each semester that includes Title IX training.

Larissa Bonnet, director of Campus Life and Housing, said all students take the Campus Clarity; Think About It course.

Bonnet said this course helps give the same information to all of the students.

Bonnet also said that the college talks about safety in their Student Orientation, Advising and Registration program, which includes information on reporting and what can be offensive to other students.

Bonnet said NWCCD has also provided programs to address issues like consent, harassment identification and bystander intervention.

Jason Vela, chief of police for the NWCCD, said that all students and faculty receive additional training as Campus Security Authority members, especially the resident advisors.

Heath said that the residence hall advisers come in a couple of weeks before the rest of the student body to receive additional training regarding Title IX and general campus safety.

Bonnet said that there is a ratio of about 1-20 to 1-22 advisers to student residents on both of the campuses.

Wendy Smith, assistant vice president for Strategic Communication and Public Relations, said that NWCCD is proud of its ratio of advisers to resident students and that NWCCD has many student leaders on campus.

Vela said that both campuses have certified armed police officers and use security cameras. NWCCD is currently in the process of putting up four emergency call boxes on each campus and does continuous surveys of the lighting on campus.

Vela also said that the college offers a safety app that has an emergency button that triangulates a student’s location with an accuracy of up to 10 feet. The app also allows students to send anonymous reports to police officers on campus. The app also allows for sending mass messages to students signed up for the program. Vela said that NWCCD insists students sign up on the app during orientation.

Vela also discussed resources offered to victims of sexual harassment.

Vela said that NWCCD has a counselor on campus for the initial assessment of a victim’s need. Then they try to outsource to an advocacy resource center where victims can get access to people trained in Title IX. NWCCD will also make any changes on campus to help the victim feel comfortable.

Bonnet says that NWCCD partners with the Advocacy and Resource Center in Sheridan and with Gillette Abuse Refuge Foundation in Gillette. These programs offer expert support to victims of sexual harassment.

Bonnet also said that the college will work directly with victims by rescheduling people, rehousing people, offering counselling, a ministry support group and a process advisor for working with the outside resources.

Casper College: 3,626 students.

In 2016, Casper College reported no crimes of sexual harassment. This was an improvement compared to 2015 with one report of rape and two reports of fondling.

Public Relations Director Chris Lorenzen said that Casper College shares sexual misconduct information during student orientation. Sex Week, held in February, is where the college holds a whole week of education about all the issues regarding sexual behavior and safety to boost awareness.

Lorenzen said that all students go through a behavior training to teach students how to stay safe and how to conduct themselves safely.

Lorenzen also said that the college’s wellness center publishes a journal called “The Stall Street Journal” in all the bathrooms. It’s a one-page journal that covers various topics, and the most recent issue focused on sexual conduct.

Lorenzen said that Casper has a campus security department, electronic door locks that are being installed across campus, and new security cameras installed over the last year. Lorenzen also said the campus is well lit.

When sexual assault does occur, all crimes should be reported through Casper’s Title IX coordinator, Linda Toohey, to conduct investigations in conjunction with the police department, Lorenzen said.

Casper College works with a local victims advocates group and has a wellness center that offers counseling services from licensed counselors, Lorenzen said. Casper has a student health area that has visiting physician support one night a week and is staffed by nurses.

Lorenzen said that Casper is starting a mental health support and connection group starting later this fall.

Western Wyoming Community College: 3,462 students.

In 2016, Western Wyoming Community College reported one crime of rape and two crimes of fondling.

Philip Parnell, Western Wyoming Community College’s Title IX coordinator, said there is a mandatory requirement for the on-campus students to complete a program called My Student Body that teaches students about Title IX, sexual assault and harassment, and alcohol and drugs. Parnell said that this program had a 100 percent response rate this year.

Western updated its policy in the last two years to match current federal guidelines and adopt a zero-tolerance policy to anything that falls under Title IX, Parnell said. He also said every Title IX complaint is investigated.

Parnell said that Western has a policy that allows the college to separate those filing a complaint from the people accused of the crime. This includes moving residents in the residence halls and students in classes. Parnell said this policy is to keep the reporting person safe.

Parnell also said that all Western staff and faculty have to complete an additional online training.

Parnell said that residence hall advisers receive additional training to helping residents during the initial stages of reporting sexual assault or harassment.

Parnell said that Western holds several prevention campaigns throughout the year and offers prevention brochures around the campus to spread information on Title IX.

Parnell discussed what physical measures are in place to keep students safe at Western.

Parnell said that Western has hired additional security, bringing its total to five members on the team. Parnell said all members of the security team have been fully trained in Title IX and three of them have had Title IX investigator training.

Parnell said that Western continues to add security cameras to its network, employs the use of emergency call boxes, does surveys on the lighting at night and uses an emergency messaging system to keep students informed of any dangers.

Western offers on-campus mental health counseling and transfer victims to local law enforcement if the victim so chooses. Parnell said Western also helps victims find referral programs off campus.

Parnell said that the most common complaint at Western is personal behavior that is problematic for others. Parnell said offers trainings on what is socially acceptable behavior.

Northwest College: 1,656 students.

In 2016, Northwest College reported one crime of rape on campus. This was an improvement from 2015 when Northwest reported three incidents of rape and three incidents of fondling.

Lee Blackmore, the college security coordinator, said that the college trains students in the residence halls and those taking first-year seminar classes on what sexual misconduct is and about the Title IX process. Blackmore said Northwest’s training includes subjects such as bystander intervention, the reporting process and the students’ rights and responsibilities.

Blackmore said the residence hall advisers also receive a high level of training regarding sexual misconduct so they can be on the lookout for individuals struggling with sexual harassment and potential situations where sexual harassment or assault could happen. Blackmore also said that the advisers are responsible for enforcing policies in place to help prevent incidents.

The campus offers counseling for victims of sexual assault or harassment.

Blackmore said that Northwest does have good lighting on campus and has improved it over the years by surveying the lighting every few years to address safety concerns.

Blackmore also said that Northwest has five 911 call boxes across the campus but has no security cameras.

Blackmore also said that the security team will escort students any place on campus at any time of the day.

Blackmore said that the college reported six incidents of sexual misconduct in 2017.

Eastern Wyoming College: 1,604 students.

Eastern Wyoming College has reported no cases of sexual misconduct since 2014.

In an email interview, Heidi Edmunds, dean of instruction, and Tami Afdahl, director of College Relations, spoke on the campus safety.

Edmunds wrote that Eastern provides a Sexual Misconduct Guidebook to all staff, faculty and students. The guidebook contains policies prohibiting all forms of sexual misconduct, definitions regarding sexual misconduct, tips on being safe, steps to take if an incident occurs and emergency and support service contacts.

Edmunds also wrote that Eastern provides access to the Not Anymore training for employees and students. The training goes over how to prevent sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, stalking and promotes bystander intervention.

Afdahl wrote that Eastern does have good lighting on campus and works to improve the lighting in obscure areas. Afdahl also wrote that the campus uses emergency call boxes and security cameras in the residence halls and in new buildings on campus.

Afdahl wrote that Eastern also uses the Code Red messaging system to get emergency alerts out to students on campus.

Edmund wrote that Eastern offers counseling to victims of sexual assault and harassment. Edmund also wrote that Eastern works with local services such as the Peak Wellness Center and Banner Health.

Central Wyoming College: 1,982 students.

In 2016, Central Wyoming College reported one crime of rape and one crime of fondling. In 2015 Central reported two cases of rape

Central officials did not reply to an interview request by publication time.

About Christopher Edwards (32 Articles)
Christopher Edwards is a sophomore at Laramie County Community College majoring in Multimedia. Edwards is also an editor for Wingspan at LCCC. Edwards found his interest in journalism in high school when he joined the yearbook and TV media classes at South High. He currently uses his photography and video experience to produce visual media for Wingspan and as a video and photography specialist at the Cheyenne Aquatic Center. His aspirations are to go on to produce video and photo content for a large online magazine or do freelance commercial advertising. To contact Edwards, please email him at chrised98@gmail.com or follow his Twitter at @Chrised98.

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