Sexual assault reported on campus

Madeleine McCormick

Madeleine McCormick | Assistant News Co-Editor

An on-campus sexual assault has been reported at Buena Vista University. According to an email sent to the campus community Thursday, the assault occurred on Feb. 14 in one of the residence halls and was reported to Campus Security on Feb. 18. The accused is a BVU student.

The message, sent by Director of Campus Security Mark Kirkholm, contained little other information about the incident but did note that “temporary safety measures have been put in place.” According to Kirkholm, more information was not provided in order to protect the rights and the privacy of the victim. He also said that the message was not intended to instigate fear, rather to inform and spread awareness.

According to the Sexual Misconduct, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking Policy that was recently updated, Buena Vista University (BVU) defines sexual misconduct as any non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse, or sexual exploitation of an individual. Included within the same policy is what the law defines as sexual assault: “any sex act committed against another by force, against the victim’s will, or when the victim is unable to consent.”

With these revisions in place, Kirkholm states that Campus Security is doing everything it can to protect the rights of the victim as well as the accused, and under these regulations, Campus Security reserves the right to do what is necessary in order to protect the victim of such a crime.

“There are lots of components to safety-related issues,” Kirkholm said. “There are temporary measures that can be put into place to create the safety mechanism, primarily focusing between the person who makes the accusation and the accused.”

Kirkholm says that under the authority of the victim, an accused can face a multitude of changes to their campus lifestyle, such as having their schedule changed, restricting their movement through residence halls and other university properties, enlisting them with a no-contact directive, and even being temporarily removed from the institution. Kirkholm did not comment on what specific measures have been taken in this most recent incident.

Kirkholm says Campus Security would like to encourage people to report incidences to ensure a safe environment for everyone in the BVU community.

Kirkholm said that so far, the police have not been involved in the Feb. 14 incident, but that the accused will go through an internal judicial process at BVU in which the case is presented to a panel that then decides on the appropriate repercussions.

Kirkholm encourages anyone who has been sexually assaulted to come forward as soon as possible so that the proper steps can be taken in order to protect them. He says that he is no stranger to dealing with cases like this, and Campus Security typically deals with one to three sexual assault cases per year. He is hopeful that students will report cases every time, even if the individual reporting may just be a witness.

“I don’t want to have any, but I am also realistic to understand that these things occur, and we always encourage people to report. We are here to help and provide a safe environment, and we can’t help with that sometimes if we don’t know about it,” Kirkholm said.

Kirkholm noted that there several options for reporting a sexual assault, and Campus Security is one of them.

“Whether it is to Campus Security or not is their choice, but we always encourage people to report a sexual assault,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Justice Gage