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Emergency Phone
Remember: There are Emergency telephones all across campus.
Preventing Sexual Assault

Reducing the Risk and Coping with an Attack

A commitment to safety is a commitment to creating an environment free from all forms of exploitation and intimidation. New freedoms bring new responsibilities — responsibility to oneself and to the entire community.

Safety is Everybody’s Business

Begin by learning how to keep yourself and your friends safe, how to summon help if you need it (ext. 6611), and how to report a crime.

The Public Safety Map of Campus pin-points emergency telephones all across campus — make a point of knowing where they are. You can get a copy of the map at the Visitor Information Center.

You’ll also find information here on escort and shuttle services, some tips for avoiding danger, and support services for crime victims.

The most obvious safety device is a good lock. Exterior entrances of all residence halls are locked 24 hours a day. All major residence halls are equipped with exterior door access control, monitored by Public Safety. In addition, all rooms in residence halls are equipped with deadbolt locks and door peepholes. Access to closed academic facilities can be obtained only with an authorized key. For everyone’s sake, respect building security. Never prop doors open, and report damaged locks to Public Safety immediately.

College students are particularly vulnerable to victimization. Many are living away from home for the first time. New freedoms and peer pressures, coming at an age when sexual impulses are very strong, contribute to this vulnerability. A tragic result is that sexual assault is the most common violent crime committed on college campuses today. In fact, research suggests that sexual activity may be forced on as many as 25 percent of all college females. Most of the assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. Though it is much less frequent, men can also be sexually assaulted.

Public Safety offers a free self defense program that female members of the Rensselaer community are encouraged to enroll in.

A commitment to safety is a commitment to creating an environment free from all forms of exploitation and intimidation. New freedoms bring new responsibilities — responsibility to oneself and to the entire community.

Preventing Assault

The best defense against assault of any kind is to avoid situations where you are vulnerable. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Choose settings for social activities very carefully. The proximity of other people heightens your safety, but does not guarantee it. “Gang rape” happens in spite of the presence of others because the group collaborates in the crime.
  • Do not walk alone at night. Travel with friends. Use the campus shuttle and the Personal Safety Escort Service provided 24 hours-a-day. Keep to familiar, well-traveled and well-lighted areas.
  • Do not hitchhike. By doing so you forfeit the ability to change direction and control of your movement.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Have your key in hand and ready to unlock your door. This also applies to your vehicle as well.
  • Always keep your room and vehicle door locked.
  • Do not open residence hall doors to strangers. If you notice a stranger in the building unaccompanied by a resident, call Public Safety immediately (Ext. 6611)
  • Use only your last name on your mailbox.
  • Hang up on obscene callers, and do not give any personal information over the telephone.
  • Examine your own desires and feeling about sex, and set sexual limits.
  • Be assertive and communicate your limits clearly.
  • Alcohol and drugs can compromise your ability to make responsible decisions and are often related to date rape situations. This applies to both potential victims and potential assailants.

Sexual Offenses

People are sexually assaulted in many different ways, including rape, forced sodomy, forcible compulsion, and insertion of a foreign object, including a finger. Generally, rape is defined as sexual intercourse that is perpetrated against the will of the victim. Acquaintance or date rape, the most prevalent form of rape on a college campus, occurs when the victim knows the assailant.

The characteristic common to these crimes is forced penetration. However, sexual assault may not always include penetration. Many college women are victims of “sexual abuse.” This type of sexual assault is generally defined as unwanted touching for the purpose of sexual arousal.

Lack of consent is a factor in almost all sexual offenses. Lack of consent results from the threat or use of physical force, incapacity to consent or (in the case of sexual abuse) any circumstances in which the victim does not acquiesce in the actor’s conduct. The victim may or may not actively resist the attack.

A person is deemed incapable of consent when he or she is less than 17 years old, mentally defective, mentally incapacitate (by alcohol, for example), or physically helpless (unconscious or unable to communicate.)

If you are Sexually Assaulted

Your most important job is to get away and get help. There are specially trained, sensitive people at Rensselaer who will assist you. Call on them. If you request anonymity, your wish will be honored. If you decide to press charges, Rensselaer will explain your options and help you with the proceedings.

If you are attacked off campus, call the local police. Then call Public Safety. Public Safety will notify the Dean of Students Office.

If you are attacked on campus, call Public Safety (ext. 6611). An officer will immediately come to help you. Public Safety will also contact the Dean of Students Office and coordinate additional police action and emergency medical assistance.

If you are raped, you should be examined by a doctor immediately to ensure that you receive medical care and that appropriate tests are administered.

Even if you don’t want to press charges, you should report the incident to Public Safety or the Dean of Students Office. Evidence must be gathered immediately to protect your right to prosecute if you decide to do so later.

Try to remember as much as possible about the assailant and report as many details as possible to the police. Show any external bruises or injuries to the police and a friend or relative who could serve as a corroborative witness. Have photographs taken of all injuries. Give your clothes to the police (do not wash them.) These items are evidence and must be analyzed by a police laboratory.

Actions taken by a victim are an important part of sexual assault prevention because an assailant rarely stops with one victim. The only way to stop these acts is by immediate prosecution, which cannot be done without the help of the victim.

Rensselaer’s Response

The Public Safety Investigator and the Dean on Duty are the primary contacts for all incidents of sexual assault involving students. These two individuals (or their designees) are notified immediately.

The Dean and Investigator meet with the person(s) involved to gather all information pertinent to the case. If immediate medical attention is required, Health Services is notified and the victim is referred to Samaritan Hospital if necessary.

The Dean and Investigator discuss with the victim the possible directions of the investigation. They explain options including disciplinary procedures at Rensselaer, criminal and civil prosecution, mediation, alternative housing assignments, and academic assistance. They inform the victim of support services both on and off campus and help the victim contact these services. Confidentiality is maintained throughout the process. Information is shared at the discretion of the Dean and Investigator and only in concurrence with the victim.

The victim is kept informed of the status of the case and is provided with any necessary assistance throughout the process.

The Institute honors a victim’s request to change an academic or living situation.

Though it is much less frequent, men can also be sexually assaulted.

Actions taken by a victim are an important part of sexual assault prevention because an assailant rarely stops with one victim.

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