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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah State University issued an alert Saturday regarding three reports of sexual assault on the Logan campus Friday night.
USU spokesman Tim Vitale said the three separate reports of sexual assault occurred on campus and included two groping incidents and one rape.
“We’re taking them all very seriously. They are all crimes. We’ll see where the police investigation takes us in the next few days,” he said.
The “timely warning notice” urges anyone who may have information about the offenses to contact USU police at 435-797-1939 or in person at 800 E. 1250 North in Logan.
“We’re hoping witnesses come forward. The police would like to talk to anybody who has information about any of the incidents,” Vitale said.
Vitale was not aware if the victims or perpetrators were USU students. He called the number of reports of sexual assaults in one night “out of the ordinary,” as previous warning notices have not included more than one report of sexual assault.
Friday night was the HOWL, the annual Halloween-themed party on campus, which was scheduled from 8 p.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday in the Taggart Student Center. The event is sponsored by the university’s student association and is open to USU students or anyone over age 18. It is an alcohol-free event.
Vitale would not comment on whether the reported assaults were connected to the event, which this year attracted some 6,000 people.
“That will be part of the investigation and that information is not available at this point,” he said.
The university hired more than 40 police officers to work at the HOWL, he said. They were assisted by some 150 student volunteers trained in bystander intervention, crowd management and consent, Vitale said.
Banners and fliers were prominently posted at the HOWL on what consent means and how to ask for consent.
“We’re taking pretty proactive steps with the HOWL itself. Again, that’s not to say these incidents were actually related,” he said.
Vitale said it’s too soon to say whether or not future changes would be made to HOWL as a result of the sexual assault reports.
The campus alert also states, “Utah law prohibits nonconsensual sexual contact (fondling and rape), domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. These actions can carry severe consequences. A crime is never the fault of the victim.”
The alert urges community members to come forward if someone speaks or behaves in a disrespectful or inappropriate way by speaking up or seeking assistance from police or USU employees.
The alert also reminded campus members of the importance of understanding consent and that it must be given before engaging in any sexual activity.
It noted that anyone who feels unsafe on campus should contact USU police or dial 911, and USU police officers provide safety escorts on campus, although there may be 20 to 30-minute waits for service.
There are on- and off-campus resources to assist anyone who has been sexually assaulted. Reports can be made to police or the university’s Title IX Office. People who are not ready to make reports are encouraged to speak to a confidential advocate or counselor. More information is available at sexualassault.usu.edu.
“The health and safety of the campus community is USU’s primary concern, and the university’s amnesty policy excuses students who report sexual misconduct from facing discipline for a violation of the student code involving drugs and alcohol,” the alert states.