UConn, along with many other universities, will increase services offered to victims of sexual assault on campus in the wake of many sexual assault settlements and news reports that one in five women are sexually assaulted on college campuses, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource center.
Jenn Longa, assistant dean of students for victim support services, attended a meeting held on Dec. 1 to inform students at UConn of the services offered through the Connecticut Office of the Victim Advocate.
“For the first time, we are having sexual assault testing done on campus because we changed the state’s legislation,” Longa said. “The tests are confidential and are completed by on-call nurses who do not work directly for the university.”
UConn is one of a few universities nationally to offer such a service. Both men and women can get tested if they have been assaulted.
“Most sexual assault cases are not a matter of whether or not the event happened,” Longa said. “The dispute is over whether or not the act was consensual. These tests are meant to gather evidence to test for injuries, STIs and are less likely to show whether an act was consensual.”
Longa reaches out to students who have either reported an attack to her office directly, or have had their assaults reported by Resident Assistants, professors, etc.
Students do not have to solely be victims of sexual assault to reach out to the Office of the Dean of Students for Victim Support Services.
Longa and her staff also handle cases in which a student has an illness in the family, are ill themselves or have experienced some other type of trauma that interferes with their ability to complete their schoolwork.
“I am here to help,” Longa said. “I am a no-judgment zone. My job is to help people get better and to be mentally and physically healthy where they are in the best place possible to accomplish what they want to do as students.”
This event was sponsored by a group of students in Dr. Kimberly Bergendahl’s Politics of Crime and Justice political science course.
The course is a service-learning class that is organizing a public hearing this coming April 10 through 16 for the National Victims of Crimes Rights Week.
“I wanted to take this class to look at the law in practice and also learn about it the lecture setting,” seventh semester political science major Paul Martin said. “And it definitely did help me figure out that I didn’t want to go this route, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing because it did help me to find what I really wanted to do.”
Elizabeth Charash is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.