UMD Statesman Reporters Shed Light on Sexual Assaults

By KBJR News 1

September 1, 2012 Updated Sep 1, 2012 at 7:26 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northlands Newscenter)
-- Two student reporters from the University of Minnesota Duluth's student newspaper are bringing attention to unreported sexual assault cases among college students.

University of Minnesota-Duluth's Newspaper the Statesman typically starts the year with something on the lighter side.

"We tell people maybe where to go eat, where the places you can hang out, what to do if you don't get along with your roommate," said Emily Haavik, reporter and copy editor with The Statesman.

That's not the case this year. The freshman edition features a series of articles, written to shine light on a problem these reporters have found at UMD, sexual assault.

"We felt like it was important to get that information out there and also timeliness, we wanted to get the articles out as soon as we can," said Haavik.

"The survey data suggested that there is a larger percentage of the student population being affected by this. I think we moved up to between 100 and 300 was the end result that we got extrapolating the survey data," said Travis Dill, who co-wrote the article.

What they found through a survey, is that, in 2010 and 2011, 650 female students reported attempted or actual sexual assault. Official numbers reported to the federal government are much lower, only three cases in three years.

The reporters spoke to these victims.

"Some of it is a gray area, it's he said, she said, but there situations where the girl is pulling away, saying no repeatedly. There's one situation were she woke up, and the guy was having sex with her when she woke up," said Haavik.

UMD officials say they were ramping up their sexual assault protocol during the statesman investigation and have been applying for federal funds to address this issue.

"We also have two student groups on campus. The sexual health peer educators and the alcohol peer educators and both of those groups address sexual violence efforts primarily with our incoming freshman students,' said Lauretta Perry, who is a Health Educator at UMD.

"We're not really changing a protocol; we're just enhancing everything that's in place," said UMD Police Chief Scott Drewlo.

After their investigation the two reporters say they feel more education is needed at UMD. They say they will be addressing this issue again.

This year's Freshman Edition of the Statesman outlines protocol on what to do if you become a victim of sexual assault. It also includes a prevention guide issued by the University.