EWU sends out warning about sexual assaults in the community - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

EWU sends out warning about sexual assaults in the community

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CHENEY, Wash. -

Right now Eastern Washington University is trying to curb a very scary trend.  School just started this week and there is already an issue. Campus police sent out an alert warning about sexual assaults in the community, so I went to campus to try and find out more.

There have been at least 5 times when a student or faculty member saw something or heard information so alarming; they felt compelled to speak up in the name of campus safety.

On the Eastern Washington University Cheney campus - fall classes are in full swing. And unfortunately so are the parties, bar hopping, and dorm room encounters that can lead to danger.

"This is very typical at this time of year at colleges across the country that we have circumstances which students come forward and indicate they've been sexually assaulted," said Dean of Students Amy Johnson

When a student or faculty member makes that kind of report - Dean of Student Amy Johnson says EWU responds by surrounding them with a safety net of people on campus they can turn to. "It's an opportunity for us to engage the community and talk about resources and also talk about steps they might take to keep themselves safer."

The safety net includes police - and in the past few years, the number of rape or fondling crimes being investigated on campus has gone up from just one in 2013, to three in 2014, to nine in 2015 - the latest report available.

But that doesn't necessarily mean the Cheney campus is less safe - Johnson says the Eastern Washington University community has become more aware, and more comfortable coming forward. "We know that gender based violence and sexual assault is a serious societal problem."

It bears repeating - as of right now there are no active criminal investigations in connection with these reports - but when it comes to being safe rather than sorry, Cheney and Eastern Washington University police aren't taking any chances. 

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