UTPB Hold Forum On Sexual Assault After First Reported Case

UTPB Hold Forum On Sexual Assault After First Reported Case

Anum Valliani

NewsWest 9

ODESSA - They called it a teaching moment, and it was basically an impromptu forum on sexual assault and campus safety at UTPB.

This comes on the heels of the first reported case of it this school year.

"Yes something less than great has happened on our campus, but we want to take a step forward and do what we can to hopefully not allow this to happen again," Associate Dean of Students Penney Nichol said.

He's one in a panel of four officials that spoke out about making smarter decisions...

"Use all of your brain to make important decisions. If there's doubt, it can wait," Counseling Director Thomas Stanger added.

During that time there was a lot of blame on alcohol and it's link to sexual violence. David Watt, President of UTPB compared it to the potentially lethal combination of drinking and driving.

"Sometimes we get confused, sometimes we don't know what's going on, and when you add alcohol into the mix it just compounds the confusion," he said,

Officials talked about and responded to other common issues, like how many women tend to not report being attacked because they feel like no one will believe them.

Nichol said that they're there to let those people know, "We will listen carefully, we will listen patiently, we will listen believing you, we will investigate."

And that goes for both the accused and the alleged victim.

The forum was held Wednesday afternoon and again later in the evening. The sessions didn't bring much of a turnout, but for the students that did attend, they were reminded that the campus was very safe.

In fact, Teresa Sewell, who's the Associate VP of students, said that when the email was sent out that the incident involved two acquaintances, and not strangers, she received many replies about how they felt better hearing that.

"We haven't had many awareness things like this here on campus. I think it was really needed that we had something like this. We finally get to hear what's going on a little bit. It was good for the students to hear that everything was okay," Nicolaus Hernandez, who's an Residence Adviser at the college said.

The speakers told the public about their various initiatives against sexual abuse; that includes a 24/7 365 days campus police service, immunity to the first person to call in potentially risky business, and some safety apps.

Afterwards they gave out plenty of resources in hopes that it would make people a little more comfortable talking about and reporting these incidents.

"We are a family in terms of how we relate to one another and how we protect each other, so I want to encourage you to take full advantage of the opportunity to care," Nichol said.