As part of our sexual assault edition, Torch editors went through The Torch archives and researched sexual assault through the ages as reported by students in the newspaper. This article doesn’t include every story about sexual assault that’s ever been reported in The Torch. It will highlight specific academic years that seemed to have a significant articles about sexual assault topics on campus.
The article “Violence at VU” covered the story of a 17-year-old male who assaulted an 18-year-old woman. He drove by her in a white mustang with black stripes and asked if she wanted a ride. He picked her up from campus and drove her to St. Paul’s cemetery where he sexually assaulted her and then struck her in the face. The incident occurred in the early hours of Sept. 17, 1978.
In the article “Another Look at Rape: Its victims and aggressors,” two students each wrote articles on the topic of rape. One writer talked to two students who were raped at different points in their lives and shared their stories. The other article focused on exploring male attitudes toward sexual assault and consent in college culture.
There were two major stories in this year about sexual assault. The first announced the beginning of the campus transportation system, originally planned so that women could have a safe option to use when getting home. The second covered a national outcry for the end of sexual abuse of women on college campuses.
One story published in April 1993 focused on how Take Back the Night drew a crowd of over 100 sexual assault survivors and over 400 supporters. The survivors of sexual assault who chose to publicly go forward wore green arm bands throughout the night as a sign of protest.
The Torch published over 10 articles covering sexual assault topics from different sections, including multiple opinion pieces and letters to the editor. In February, The Torch published a two-page spread focusing on the question: “Is VU’s response to sexual assault effective?”
In the article “Week of awareness combats sex abuse,” Take Back the Night began its annual week with the following events: Monday, students simulated bruises to appear as victims of abuse; Tuesday, a ribbon-tying ceremony was held outside the Chapel; Wednesday, a woman from Tiger Martial Arts gave a self-defense seminar; Thursday, Front Porch Music hosted an open mic for students to share their pain and grief; Friday, a rally was held at the Union followed by a march across campus; Saturday, a service was held under the Shakespeare tree for healing.
The Torch covered two incidents during this year. The first incident occurred over the summer on July 18, 2004 when a registered sex offender broke into a house right off campus and sexually assaulted someone, and he was later detained in the Porter County Jail. The second incident of sexual assault occurred on Oct. 9 when a male student was caught looking into showers of a women’s bathroom in Alumni Hall.
In the article “Addressing sexual assault at VU,” the location and processes of the SAAFE Office are evaluated. The location of the office is in the back of Alumni Hall, and the program offers a variety of services to those seeking support.
During this academic year, The Torch published three stories about sexual assault topics. One involved sexual assault awareness organization Breakthrough U.S. asking for President Heckler to join other university presidents around the country in making a public pledge against sexual assault on campus. Another article focused on sexual assault education on campus and the national conversation about the need to make resources for support and education more accessible to students. In the article “Sexual assault, Title IX addressed,” Director of Counseling Services and Coordinator of the SAAFE Office Paula Dranger hosted a Sexual Respect and Title IX event that informed students as to how they could become SAAFE advocates, which are volunteers professionally trained to provide support.