UW-L Violence Prevention Office Works to Make Students Feel Safer on Campus

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This past Saturday, UW-La Crosse police were notified of an alleged sexual assault on campus at the 1400 block of La Crosse Street.

The case has since been handed over to the La Crosse PD, who says the investigation is still underway.

Sexual assaults have been prevalent on college campuses for decades, but school officials say victims often times do not report the crime.

“There’s good reasons why it’s difficult for people to report crimes of this nature, and we don’t necessarily promote reporting as their only option,” said UWL Violence Prevention Specialist Ingrid Peterson.

For more than a decade, Peterson has worked with victims at UWL.

“In my office, I work with any kind of interpersonal violence. So sexual assault, domestic violence or dating violence, stalking, sexual harassment and I see about 100 people a year on our campus for a combination of those issues. It’s certainly more than we would want to see happening,” she said.

To help combat the issue, Peterson speaks with incoming students and parents each summer, every new student must complete an online course and blue light phones that are connected to police are located around campus.

Those measures, and more, make a majority of students on campus feel relatively safe.

“In terms of sexual assault, I feel very safe on campus just because we do have a lot of the blue lights around and I do always feel like if I’m in need I can grab one of those and call one of my friends and I’ll be fine. I haven’t really had any experience myself, so I feel very safe on campus,” said UWL Senior Abby Ostrovsky.

More and more, Peterson says schools around the state and region are putting more of an emphasis on sexual violence on campuses.

“I think it’s becoming a norm. I’d like to think we’re a little ahead of the curve. As I said my position’s been here for 12 years and it was a little more unusual 12 years ago for campuses to be taking this kind of a look at this issue,” said Peterson.

While sexual assaults still occur at a higher than wanted rate, Peterson says her office has seen an increase in reporting over the past couple of years.

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