Sexual Assault - Preventive Programs & Response Procedures
It is the policy of Western Washington University to provide an environment in which students, staff, and faculty can work, live, and study free from all types of sexual misconduct. The range of sexual misconduct includes sexual harassment, sexual intimidation, sexual coercion, sexual assault, and rape. The University will act to prevent and eliminate such behavior. Individuals who engage in sexual misconduct will be subject to sanctions, including written reprimand, termination, or expulsion. (excerpt from Western’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct)
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Reducing Your Risk of Sexual Assault
Preventive programs offered at Western
If a sex offense does occur
How you can help a friend
Procedures for campus disciplinary action
- Communicate your wants early. Know what your limits are for both alcohol and sex before going to a party or bar.
- Be assertive about communicating what you want from another person. Ask the person you are with to do the same.
- Trust your instincts. If a situation feels uncomfortable for you, there is probably a good reason.
- Be aware of the effects of alcohol on your body. Alcohol interrupts the ability to make sound decisions and impairs your ability to communicate clearly.
- Do not leave your drink unattended, especially at a bar or a party.
- Avoid being alone with an unfamiliar person, especially when alcohol is involved. If you are alone, make sure that your friends know where you are and how long you’ll be gone.
- When on a date with someone new, make sure that you are responsible for your own transportation. It is safer to meet up with someone than to rely on an unfamiliar person for a ride.
- Remember: Drunk sex jeopardizes your ability to get and give consent.
- PREVENTION AND WELLNESS SERVICES: Staffed by professional health educators and Peer Health Lifestyle Advisors, it offers education and prevention services on HIV/AIDS, sexually transmittable diseases, sexual misconduct, alcohol and drug prevention, relaxation, stress management, and CPR. Old Main 560. Call 650-2993. Programs include:
Western Men Against Violence. This group of men recognizes violence in all of its forms. They are Western students who work to reduce the frequency and severity of violent acts among students, faculty, and staff. They offer programs on men’s roles in stopping sexual assault, violent crimes, and hate crimes. They promote activities that stop the cycle of violence in their lives and in the culture and support each other in finding new, non-violent forms of masculinity.
WEAVE (Women's Empowerment and Violence Education. These Lifestyle Advisors offer women information, resources, and opportunities to get involved in breaking the silence that masks sexual violence. They work to promote women's strength by sponsoring empowering events and activities.
Will Act For Change. Performance Educators use the experiences and stories of Western students to create interactive scenes about the health and wellness of college students. Discussion and audience interaction are vital to these performances. Audience members are literally brought on stage to practice “what they would do” in real-life situations dealing with issues such as sexual health, sexual assault, alcohol and drugs, racism, homophobia, classism, sexism, and how to be an ally.
- STUDENT SELF CARE CENTER: Staffed by a registered nurse and trained Peer Health Lifestyle Advisors, it provides information, resources and referral for sexual health, HIV/AIDS and common illnesses and injuries. Campus Services Building, 2001 Bill McDonald Parkway. Call 650-2961.
- WELLNESS OUTREACH CENTER: Staffed by a health educator and trained Peer Health Lifestyle Advisors, it provides information, resources and referral for alcohol and other drug concerns, stress and sexual misconduct issues. Viking Union 432. Call 650-4321.
- NEW STUDENT SERVICES/FAMILY OUTREACH: Provides students with the Viking Tips handbook and the BluePages containing important information regarding alcohol and other drug prevention; safe sexual behaviors; personal safety tips; how to contact University Police; and a directory of offices and resources. Old Main 330F. Call 650-3846.
- Go to a safe place as soon as possible: your home, a friend’s home, a locked car, or a busy public place.
- Obtain assistance. Contact a close friend or other trusted person who can help you clarify what you want to do next. Trained advisors at Western’s CASAS help line (650-3700) are available to help you 24 hours a day. They can help you obtain immediate medical attention if appropriate, provide emotional support, and put you quickly in touch with other resources you may need.
- Preserve all physical evidence available to document a sexual assault or rape. Don’t bathe, shower, or douche until you’ve had a medical examination. You can change clothes, but do not launder what you were wearing at the time of the incident -- keep the clothes in a paper bag to preserve evidence. If the crime scene is accessible to you, disturb it as little as possible. Don’t change or launder bedding.
- Obtain a medical examination in all cases of sexual assault or rape. An exam will check for physical injury and the possibility of sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy. It is important for your well-being. If done promptly, the exam can obtain important evidence that can be used in a criminal prosecution.
- Contact the police to report the assault. CASAS advisers and other WWU personnel are available to assist you in contacting the appropriate law enforcement authorities, including on-campus and local police. It is important to remember that sexual assault is never the victim's fault and perpetrators should be held accountable.
- Students who have been the victim of a sex offense or other type of sexual misconduct can request modifications in their on-campus living and/or academic arrangements. Requests may involve academic support and changes in class schedules, housing, or phone numbers. CASAS advisers can help arrange changes.
Individuals who have been subjected to any form of sexual assault are encouraged to seek immediate assistance from:
CASAS (Crime and Sexual Assault Services)
Available to all Western students
24-hour help line: 650-3700
CASAS assists victims of current or previous sexual assault, dating or domestic violence, stalking, hate crimes, or other violent crimes to connect with medical assistance, counseling and support services, police reporting, legal resources, academic support, and other student services. CASAS supports victims, and families and friends of victims.
The University takes all reports of sexual misconduct seriously and has an obligation to respond promptly and effectively when a staff member receives a report. In addition to CASAS, other options for assistance include:
For confidential advice and support:
WWU Counseling Center
Old Main 540, (360) 650-3164
Employee Assistance Program
Health Promotion Network, (360) 715-6565
Whatcom County Crisis Services
(360) 715-1563 (24 hours)
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services (DVSAS) (360) 715-1563 or (877) 715-1563 (24 hours)
For medical assistance:
WWU Student Health Services
Campus Services Building, 2100 Bill McDonald Parkway, 650-3400
St. Joseph Hospital
734-5400 (Voice), 738-6777 (TTY)
To report an offense to the police:
University Police Department
(if the offense occurred on WWU property)
650-3555, 650-3123 (TTY)
Call 911 for emergencies; 676-6911 for non-emergencies
To report an offense to the University:
University Student Conduct Officer
(if alleged offender is a WWU student)
Viking Union 506, 650-3706
Equal Opportunity Center/Title IX Compliance Officer
Old Main 345, 650-3307
To contact the Federal Office for Civil Rights:
Students may report incidents of sexual harassment, which includes sexual assault and all other forms of sexual misconduct, to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, 915 Second Ave., Room 3310, Seattle WA 98174-1099. Telephone: (206) 220-7900. Email: OCR_Seattle@ed.gov
Private legal counsel:
Students who have experienced any form of sexual misconduct have the right to consult private legal counsel of their own choosing for options on legal action.
- Provide a safe environment. If possible, stay with your friend.
- Listen and accept what you hear. Do not press for details. Allow your friend to reflect on what has happened and to share some of her or his feelings.
- Put your own judgments and opinions on hold. Your friend needs to know that s/he will not be judged or rejected by you.
- Confirm the seriousness of the problem and let your friend know that she or he is not to blame. Many victims tend to blame themselves for the offender’s actions, especially if the perpetrator was an acquaintance.
- Obtain information about all available resources, such as Western’s CASAS help line, and give the details to your friend.
- Encourage your friend to obtain a medical examination if s/he has not done so already, but in other respects resist your natural desire to give advice. Survivors of sexual assault need to regain a sense of control over their lives. Allow your friend to make their own decisions about the next steps.
- Seek emotional support for yourself. Call CASAS to debrief or get tips on how to help your friend.
If the alleged perpetrator of a sex offense is a Western student, campus disciplinary action may be taken against that student in accordance with Western’s Student Rights and Responsibilities Code. Such action is independent of any prosecution initiated in the state criminal justice system against the student.
In a campus disciplinary action involving an alleged sex offense, both the accused student and his/her accuser are entitled to the same opportunities to have others present during any proceeding, and both parties must be informed of the outcome of the disciplinary action. The outcome of the disciplinary action means only Western’s final determination with respect to the alleged sex offense and any sanction that is imposed against the accused. This disclosure does not constitute a violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. 1232g).
Further information on campus disciplinary procedures may be obtained from the Student Rights and Responsibilities Code or the University Student Conduct Officer, Viking Union 506, telephone 650-3706.
To obtain information about registered sex offenders in the Bellingham area, contact the University Police at (360) 650-3555, the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office at (360) 676-6920 or the Bellingham Police Department at (360) 676-6650. You may also find information about registered sex offenders on the University Police web site and the Bellingham Police Department web site.