Assault report shows crime’s stigma lingers

Studies show less than 5 percent of college rape victims report the crime to police.

by Evelina Smirnitskaya

An anonymous phone call to the University of Minnesota greek life director last week adds to the large number of sexual assaults that regularly go unreported to police.
Chad Ellsworth, program director at the Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life, said the mother of a University student called him last Tuesday, saying her daughter had been sexually assaulted at an unidentified fraternity.
The mother did not provide her name, the name of her daughter or any other details such as a time or a location of the incident, Ellsworth said.
A fraternity would not have to notify OFSL if it disciplined a member over the incident, Ellsworth told the mother, who wanted to know if anyone found responsible in the alleged assault was punished.
Neither Ellsworth nor the Interfraternity Council leadership was aware of the incident prior to the call, and no official police report has been filed.
OFSL receives similar anonymous calls âÄúfrom time to time,âÄù Ellsworth said.
The best that can be done in those situations, he said, is to âÄúcoach the person and hope theyâÄôll give [Ellsworth] enough information to act on, or turn around and submit an official report.âÄù
In 2010 the University police department reported 12 cases of criminal sexual conduct and offenses on the University premises.
But the Aurora Center has reported that less than 5 percent of college rape victims report the crime to police.
Ami Wazlawik, who works at the center, said victims are hesitant to speak to the police.
âÄúItâÄôs an intimidating process to go through,âÄù she said.
Wazlawik said many victims find it hard to go through the experience and have to relive it by retelling what happened in detail to the authorities and other officials.
Ellsworth said his office will continue to address similar situations that involve the greek community when they are brought to his attention, but the University canâÄôt properly address a case without actual information, he said.
Chuck Seymour, executive member of the IFC, also said that without an official report, the IFC can do little. But individual chapter presidents have discussed the incident with their fraternity houses, he said.
âÄúEven though there was no police report filed, this is not something we want to continue to happen,âÄù he said.
The IFC is also continuing to set up Arkeo, an organization of students tasked with promoting safety at fraternity parties.
On Sunday, the IFC passed a bill to purchase insurance for the program, which it needed before officially starting. The informal timeline is for Arkeo to be ready to function within two to
three weeks, Seymour said.
Ellsworth said that policies in place to prevent such incidents are good, and Arkeo is a way to enforce them.