Between 2017 and 2018, the number of reported rape cases on the Modesto Maidique Campus have increased by 11, according to the University’s 2018 Security and Fire Report.
While the data doesn’t show whether these reports were confirmed, it suggests that programs such as the Victim Empowerment Program and the It’s On Us campaign are encouraging more students to report when sexual assaults occur on campus.
VEP, which is part of FIU’s Counseling and Psychological Services, helps those who have “victimized through threatened or actual violence” with confidential assistance. It’s On Us, on the other hand, is a national campaign that expands education on sexual violence prevention with the aim of ending sexual assault on college altogether.
Programs like these are there to help victims of sexual assault, and they make a considerable effort to spread awareness of their activities thanks to tabling and outreach events.
However, we recognize that, as FIU students ourselves, it can be difficult to prioritize our mental and physical health in the midst of our hectic schedules.
This is especially difficult in a commuter school like FIU, where students may not connect with on-campus programs and organizations as easily as in a traditional university. The “go to class and get out” mentality is prevalent across all our campuses, and with the added weight of driving an hour and a half to and from school, staying on campus for a forum on sexual assault may be the last thing on a student’s mind.
Even so, the increase of sexual assault reports shows that there is a need for these programs at our University, especially at a time when accountability is being pushed in all areas of our society.
In these scenarios, remaining open and receptive to these programs can help spark dialogue between students, counselors and support groups. Ensuring that our student body is aware of the safety net FIU has cast under us—and a free one, at that—is crucial to maintaining the welfare of all Panthers.
It’s not easy to do so, but engaging with and spreading the word about these programs can help students who need it the most.
Featured photo from FIU Flickr.