DSU Partners To Help Sexual Assault Victims

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ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 Utah) Faculty at Dixie State University says sexual assault against students is a concern. A partnership involving the university is offering help to victims. 
 
While the most recent numbers may not show a widespread problem, the university in southern Utah is taking steps to advocate for victims.
 
On Wednesday, a survivor’s advocate is inside Holland Commons, available to talk to anyone needing direction or just a shoulder to lean on. 
 
Dixie State University administration says there hasn’t been a reported sexual assault on campus since at least 2012. However, Title IX Director Cindy Cole says since the university only reports on-campus numbers, they sometimes look very low. 
 
“We are seeing more off-campus than on-campus sexual assaults,” Cole said. 
 
The most recent statistics provided by the university show there was one off-campus sex offense in 2013 and two in 2014. ABC4 Utah could not get numbers for 2015 or 2016. 
 
Campus police were also unable to give more current statistics. 
 
“It still happens here at Dixie and in our community and we need to be aware of that and provide services,” Cole said.  
 
Those services include an on-campus resource provided by The Dove Center. Wednesday is the first day of the semester and the victim advocacy group offers a walk-in service. 
 
“I’ve talked to faculty, I’ve talked to employees at DSU, I’ve talked to students. I had one community member who was driving by,” Elizabeth Bluhm said, Dove Center survivor advocate. 
 
Bluhm says survivor concerns range from stalking to rape. Even while sexual assault numbers appear to be low, the university is being proactive. 
 
“By having someone on campus, it just makes it immediate. They are able to go and talk with me, even if they are trying to figure out if they want to report, do they want to tell anybody,” Bluhm said. 
 
Cole says one reason there are no sexual assaults reported on campus is because the university had limited on-campus housing. But that changed last month with the opening of a $22 million facility. 
 
The Dove Center serves up to 1,200 individual sex assault survivors every year in Washington County.

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