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Sexual Assaults on College Campuses Targeted

Courtesy U.S. Navy

A White House Task Force report says universities are not providing all the resources they can to protect students from sexual violence.

We will have a panel discussion about sexual assaults on college campuses tonight on Florida Matters.

WUSF intern Lucielle Salomon explains what happens when a sexual assault is reported at the University of South Florida Tampa campus.

According to the most recent report by the USF Tampa Police Department, there were 17 forcible sexual assaults reported on campus from 2010 to 2012. That compares to 24 reported incidents at the University of Florida; the most at any Florida's public university.

Just last Sunday, a sexual battery was reported in the Juniper-Poplar dorm at USF. A student told police she was assaulted in a dorm by a man she didn't know.

Chris Daniel is the Assistant Chief of Police at USF Tampa.

"Sexual assault is the unwanted aggression by one party against another. Sex related behavior does not necessarily have to do with intercourse," he says.

Daniel says the department not only becomes investigators, but also supporters of the victim.

"We try to have our officers explain to the victim what's going to happen, this is the next step that we have to take," he says. "So that they feel empowered in this process because the whole event of sexual assault is to take the power away from the victim and our job is to start  rebuilding that empowerment."

Daniel says if the assault occurs off campus, the USF Police Department assists the Tampa Police Department with its investigation.

"The investigation would have to lie in the hands of the agency with that primary jurisdiction," says Daniel. "However, we do through the university engage the university  services, student counseling, victim advocacy anything else that would help that student provided that doesn't disrupt the investigation."

Daniel says there is no typical victim.

"We see victims from all walks of life. In the years I've been here we've had adults, juveniles, people that were very confident and bold," he says. "In fact, those are the ones that take longer to come forward sometimes.

At USF Tampa students also have resources on campus to discuss their situation.

(Sound of the phone ringing at the Center for Victim Advocacy)

That's Nanci Newton, director of the USF Center for Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention. She says the center has a 24/7 help line.

"We can even arrange the appointment with the police, we can accompany them or if they are already at the police station will go to the police station and accompany them through the interview, through follow up investigatory procedures," she says.

Newton says the center offers services to USF students, faculty and staff members no matter where the crime happened.

"We're a really helpful place to come when you don't know what you want to do or when you've decided that you just need to talk something over," says Newton. "Or, you want to get medical help for the repercussion of the assault, but you don't want to report."

After a sexual assault every individual reacts differently, says Ann Jaronski, director of the USF Counseling Center.

"Our initial process is to have the student sit down one on one with the counselor and talk about his or her needs and concerns," she says. "And, then that student and the counselor would together decide what the best plan of action for the student might be."

Chris Daniel, the campus Assistant Chief of Police, says students can take action to prevent sexual assaults.

"It's really knowing who you're with, putting yourself in the situation and following those instincts. We all have those instincts," he says. "When something doesn't feel right, get out of it. Find a way out of it, find a friend, bring them to your room or get next to somebody else. Create a witness rich environment because your body is telling you something is not right, listen to it."

Daniel says let someone know where you're going, when you'll be home and who you're with.