In 2015, there were 15 reported sex offenses at Western Michigan University’s Kalamazoo campus, according to WMU’s annual security and fire safety report. Eleven of the 15 offenses were rape, according to the report.
More than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. In 2015, the Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program awarded $500,000 to 22 Michigan colleges and universities to help prevent sexual assaults.
“We’re looking for collaboration with community and local law enforcement, bystander intervention and, the most important strength, would be the level of student involvement,” said First Lady Sue Snyder, according to a news story on MLive. “It’s critical we get the students involved because that’s what it’s all about.”
The high number of sexual assaults over recent years at some Michigan campuses have resulted in scrutiny over how colleges are handling the cases. Some parents are upset about the safety of their child attending college.
“I have a daughter that goes to one of those colleges and I fear that she might not be getting the protection that needs to be there,” said Kim Hernandez, a 41-year-old Ottawa County woman. “I’m not sure if $25,000 is going to do anything.”
Western Michigan University has been awarded $25,000 through the grant. WMU’s office of student services has programs to aid in the reporting of sexual assaults and plans on using the grant money to increase outreach.
The office of student services’ website allows for assaults to be reported through its student concern resource links. Multiple outlets are made available for reporting, including contacting the police.
Mike Johnson, a retired Michigan police officer, thinks that college environments need to become more open about talking about sexual assaults.
“During my twenty years in the force, I came across a lot of sexual assault cases,” said Johnson. “Most of the women that came in to make a report were hesitant and scared. College culture needs to be changed, so that those young women won’t be afraid to come forth and can feel some sense of security while attending college.”
Michigan is offering the grants again this year, in a continued effort to combat sexual assault on campus.
“Hopefully, the extra money will start to reduce the number of cases and make campuses more safe,” said Johnson.