Securing a Campus, Part Three
May 23rd, 2011
Omaha, NE – Incidents of sexual assault prevail on college campuses across the United States. At the University of Nebraska-Omaha, KVNO News found opportunities for better training, and hope for the future in the third and final installment of the KVNO News series: Securing a Campus.
One out of five women on college campuses have been sexually assaulted. That statistic remains true across the United States, even here in Nebraska, according to the Women’s Center for Advancement, formerly the YWCA.
Gabrielle Maly is a freshman at UNO, and has been living on campus for one year. She lives in the dorms with three other girls, and says she feels safe here at UNO, even after hearing the numbers.
“I would say that statistic would definitely be decreased in my mind, knowing how safe UNO feels to me.”
But Nicole Naatz, a professional counselor at UNO, says students are at risk, especially within the first two weeks of a semester.
Campus Security is working with several other organizations on UNO’s campus to provide support to victims of sexual assault. Stan Schliefer, the Director of Support Services at UNO, said, “We’re actually working quite aggressively with our counseling group, and our campus security group [has] gone through additional training.”
“It’s mostly awareness,” he said, “and getting people to counselors in a very quick manner.”
Paul Kosel, the Manager of Campus Security at UNO, said security training took four days and included collaboration with the Omaha Police, the WCA, and a nurse from Methodist Hospital specifically trained to deal with sexual assault. However, that training occurred two summers ago. Kosel does admit it’s been a while. “It’s probably time for a refresher on that,” he said.
While the response of the University system is mostly reactive instead of proactive right now, that’s changing. The WCA’s Emily Nguyen works in collaboration with college campuses. She is working toward establishing a violence prevention office on the University campus. The office would work in collaboration with many groups, including campus security. Nguyen couldn’t name the program they want to use yet because they are waiting for approval, but did say it would involve the “bystander approach.”
“There typically are other people in the room,” Nguyen said, “and so its about engaging those people, [asking] ‘How can I intervene? How can I stop something from happening?’”
Naatz is working with Nguyen to bring that program to UNO. She says it starts with education, training students faculty and staff so they feel empowered and know what to do.
The program will take a while before it finds a permanent home here, either spring or fall of 2012. For more information on how to get involved, or for resources for victims, contact the Women’s Center for Advancement at (402) 345-6555. UNO students can call the counseling center at (402) 554-2409.