VCU speaks on efforts to keep students safe following string of sexual assaults

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Campus police at Virginia Commonwealth University say they’re investigating three sexual assaults in the span of a week. There have been a total of four sex assault reports in the past month.

“Safety and security of our students is our number one priority,” Dean of Student Affairs Reuban Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez says the university has taken a number of steps to protect students in the past few years, including educating them about what constitutes sexual assault and what resources are available to them. Incoming students hear from campus police, VCU’s wellness resource center and prosecutors.

They were educated on things like, “how to avoid certain situations and how to react to people who have been sexually assaulted,” student Lida Zafar explained.

“Students know that if they see something, if they hear something about a type of assault, they can report it. And if they are survivors of assault, they can report it anonymously,” Rodriguez said.

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VCU Dean of Student Affairs Reuban Rodriguez.

Rodriguez says the number of reported sexual assaults on college campuses has risen across the country. He says more focus on the issue has more students coming forward, even if they decide not to press charges.

“Most colleges and universities are seeing more students come forward, even if it’s just to utilize resources,” Rodriguez said.

Meanwhile, VCUis reminding students to be aware of their surroundings, use RamSafe bus service for transportation or the school’s security escort service, and VCU’s LiveSafe mobile app with different tools to help keep students safe.

“I’m personally not afraid for my own safety, I think VCU does a really good job with following up on emails, telling us when things have happened,” student Eva Childrey told 8News.

“It’s really important they know that they’re supported in an educational environment,” Rodriguez added.

You can download the LiveSafe mobile app for Android or iOS.

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