How to stay safe on campus
We don’t like to think about things like sexual assault happening here on our campus. But it did happen, the Friday before spring semester began.
The UH community received a system-wide email alert stating that a sexual assault occurred at WCC and that the suspect got away in a gray SUV.
Later, a description of the suspect was released by Honolulu Police: “Be on the lookout for a Caucasian male in his late 30s-40s, approximately 5’8” with a medium build. He was last seen wearing a light colored t-shirt, board shorts & a baseball cap. He was driving a gray GMC SUV. Call 911, do not approach.”
So what exactly is sexual assault? According to University of Hawai‘i policy, sexual assault is “the act of committing unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature, whether by an acquaintance or by a stranger.”
Such contact is unwanted when it occurs:
- without the consent (as defined in section ll.C.2.) of at least one of the individuals; or
- when at least one of the individuals is incapacitated or otherwise incapable of giving consent (as defined in section ll.C.2.)
The policy can be found at http://www.hawaii.edu/policy/docs/temp/1.204.pdf
While the sexual assault case remains open, there are many steps students can take to try to remain safe on campus and to get help if needed.
This semester, WCC has a new confidential student advocate for anyone experiencing domestic violence. Shyla Haven from the Domestic Violence Action Center (DVAC) can be found Mondays and Tuesdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. in Hale Kako’o room 112. Another confidential resource on campus is mental health counselor Karla Silva-Park. Her office is in Hale Kako‘o room 101.
While most faculty on campus are mandated reporters, meaning if you tell them about an assault they are required to report it to authorities, both Haven and Silva-Park are confidential resources who are not bound to report information to authorities.
So if you are unsure whether you want to make a report, you can see them, and they will help you navigate the process while you decide what steps to take next.
Amy Rozek, vice chancellor of student affairs, is also the deputy Title IX coordinator for students.
She recommends that students “be aware of your surroundings at all times, and go with your gut.” She likes to use the term “situational awareness,” which means being aware and listening to your inner voice.
Faye Chambers, WCC’s new safety and security manager, said that campus security supports the local authorities and is trained in first aid and in protecting the victim until police can arrive.
Its team follows a standard procedure informing police and administrators and sending out timely warnings through the UH email system.
“I want to encourage all students to sign up for UH Alerts because it works,” Chambers said. (You can sign up at www.hawaii.edu/alert.)
Chambers told the story of how last semester a car was stolen from the Hale ‘Ākoakoa parking lot but due to the early alert system the car was quickly located by a student who had seen the alert and recognized the car at another spot on campus. The student called security, and the car was recovered.
Playing off the well known phrase, “If you see something, say something,” Chambers said, “I would rather say, if you see, feel or hear something, say something.”
Chambers is actively working on getting the campus emergency phone system fixed. The emergency phones have not been working for several semesters. She is getting bids from contractors to begin repairs and hopes to have the system up within a few months.
Campus security also offers escort service to and from buildings and vehicles. If you are alone after dark or ever have a bad feeling about something, you can call security at 235-7355 for a safe escort to get to where you need to go. Remain indoors in a well lit area until they arrive.
Chambers recommends that everyone on campus programs security’s number into their phones so that help can quickly be reached in any situation.
Tips for staying safe on campus can be found on page 36 of the WCC annual security report, which is on the WCC website at https://windward.hawaii.edu/Documents/Security/2016/WCC_2016_Annual_Security_Report.pdf.
Remember to trust your instincts and reach out for help right away.
by Cynthia Lee Sinclair, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter