Sexual assault in focus

Freshman Darrin Wurz said sexual assault can happen almost any night, and prevention is everyone’s duty.

While Wurz has not had any friends who have been assaulted, he has heard some stories about assaults on college campuses.

Alcohol often plays a role in sexual assaults, and he said men must play a role in preventing any situations where men and women could get involved in a case of sexual misconduct.

“Last night I had to tell these two girls they should probably leave,” he said about two women he encountered at a party. Wurz felt that because of alcohol consumption, the female and male students at the party might have done something they would regret.

Nothing happened at the party, but Wurz said he took the precaution to protect his friends from making a bad decision.

A sober friend and drinking responsibly are the two best ways to prevent sexual assaults, Wurz said.

Psychology department faculty and students are involved a study on the sexual experiences of students going to UW-Eau Claire.

The study is part of an ongoing effort to combat sexual assault on campus by the Sexual Safety and Responsibility Research Group, a team of seven students and associate professors of psychology Lori Bica and Mickey Crothers.

“Our goal is to maximize safety and the well being of all students on campus,” Crothers said.

The group is asking for the help of men and women to minimize the risk of sexual assault on campus, she said.

A portion of the study is used as a means to measure the success of a program that the research group brought to some residence halls in September.

Taking care of one another and limiting alcohol consumption were two key ideas in the program, Crothers said.

The researchers need 100 men and 100 women to complete the current portion of the study.

Lots of women have shown up to get involved in the survey, but Crothers said more men are needed to complete the questionnaire.

Voluntary participants are given a questionnaire to fill out, asking about sexual experiences they have had in the recent past, Bica said.

A psychology student administers the written survey in a classroom to participants who answer the questions on paper.

There is no deception in the questions on the survey, Bica said.

“They’re going to know exactly what they are answering,” she said.

Although the program in the residence halls and questionnaires began this year, the research for the project began in the summer of 2001.

Students and professors looked at scholarly journals to see research on other campuses, and how to improve methods of sexual assault education and prevention.

Past research looked at victimization issues, which is valuable information.

But Crothers said the research group also wanted to look at the behavior of those involved in the program to see how it affected participants and how it can be improved.

Data from the first group of participants were collected, Crothers said, but more is needed to put the first set in perspective.

The approach of the program and the study are different from other sexual assault prevention programs in the past.

Bica said the program is new, but the effort is not.