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LOGAN — The investigation continues into three reported cases of sexual assault that happened on the campus of Utah State University all on one night. Campus officials say they’re figuring out what kind of changes they need to make to ensure safety for students at campus parties.
For students like Kanbree Knowles, it was the first time attending the Halloween party known as “The Howl.” She says she felt completely safe while she was there, but when she got the alert saying the assaults had reportedly happened, she wasn’t necessarily surprised.
“It was a party and I’m sure a lot of people were drinking,” she says.
Knowles says the dance floor was extremely packed, but she went with a friend, which helped her feel even more protected. She didn’t hear about the alleged assaults until the next day, but she feels grateful she got the alert from the university. She believes those alerts can go a long way in making sure students know what they need to know about what’s happening on campus.
“I know how to be safe and when I should be going with my friends. Late at night, if I’m going to the library, I bring someone with me so I’m not alone,” Knowles says.
Campus officials say two students claimed they were fondled while another reports being raped, all on school grounds. Director of Crisis Communication Amanda DeRito says they alerted the students in an effort to be more transparent about campus safety. She also says they’re having serious discussions about beefing up security.
“We talked about policing patterns and where police are. Do we need to change those? (We also talked about) lighting on the dance floor,” DeRito says.
They also proposed adding more security cameras into events like this that could hopefully spot when assaults like this happen. However, since The Howl is such an important event for the school, DeRito says they’re not considering cancelling it, yet.
“The Howl is organized by our student involvement and our student leaders and they take it very seriously. We will continue to look at it, for sure, and how we can improve safety,” she says.
Anyone who feels unsafe on campus should contact USU police or dial 911. 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.
Contributing: Tania Dean, KSL TV and Marjorie Cortez, KSL