Senator Claire McCaskill Looks into what Campuses can do to Curb Sexual Assault Crimes

By Lindsay Clein , Daniel Shedd |

Published 03/22 2014 03:19PM

Updated 03/22 2014 03:44PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill is looking to curb sexual assault crimes across the state and wants to know what universities can do to help.

A study recently conducted by The White House Council on Women and Girls found that nearly 22 million women have been raped.  The study also showed 1.6 million men have been raped.

Workers at Senator Claire McCaskill's office say she is only in the investigation phase, but is surveying colleges to see what can be done to help prevent sexual assaults.

KOLR10 News spoke to a Missouri State University leader to find out what policies are already in place to help curb these crimes and make students feel safer.

"We want to do all we can for our students," says MSU Safety and Transportation Department Assistant Director Jay Huff.

Huff says safety always comes first.

When it comes to forcible sex offenses on MSU's campus, statistics show there were five in 2010, zero in 2011, and three in 2012.

"It's hard to get an even line as far as what is up and what is down," says Huff.  "Because when you talk about relatively low numbers, an increase of one or two is a huge percentage spike."

MSU staff say they focus on putting safety first.  Part of that includes emergency blue light phones they've placed in multiple areas across campus.

"We have ten blue light phones on campus," says Huff.  "And we are trying to add some more as the campus expands."

MSU also has several other mechanisms in place to help keep students safe including a camera system, 24 hour campus patrol, a shuttle system, and a sexual assault and rape prevention program

"When you talk about something that's a nationwide incentive, I'm sure there are other universities that need to do more," says Huff.  "And maybe we are doing more than others and others may be doing more than us."

MSU students say they feel safe.

"It's a relaxing environment," says Jessica Sims.  "You have those phones everywhere-- so if something happens, you can get on it and call all the time and we have security all the time."

"I know I have mace just in case," says DeAntra Darough.  "And several students carry mace on them in case."   

Still, Huff says you can never do too much.

"We are trying to keep an awareness to students that although this is a reasonably safe campus and a reasonably safe area and a safe part of the state, we don't want to let our guard down and be that one statistic," he says.

Huff adds that when these crimes do occur, they usually happen at an off-campus dwelling of some sort.

Huff says The Office of Student Conduct works very closely with sexual assault victims to provide services they need like counseling and other helpful resources.

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