UH Mānoa takes steps to reduce sexual violence while increasing resources to victims

By  Alicia D. Partridge.

The Silence of Sexual Assault 4

Photo by Annie McGuire, Flickr- Ethos Magazine

This semester alone, five people have been sexually assaulted on campus: three female students, one male student and one female faculty member. Knowing how to prevent these instances and protect yourself is critical.

“Statistically we know that one in three people will experience domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault by someone familiar in their lifetime and {{that}} women ages 16-24 are at the highest risk,” said Leslie Cabingabang, University of Hawaii Manoa Women’s Center Program Against Violence to Women (PAVW) coordinator.

The number of sexual assault cases reported this semester has been lower than in the past three years, with eight student cases reported in 2009 and 13 in 2008. The majority occurred in the dormitories.

Sexual assault is defined as more broadly than rape, but a full range of forced sexual acts, including forced touching or kissing; verbally coerced intercourse; and vaginal, oral, or anal penetration.

“Most of the instances happen in the first three months of the semester,” said Girl Fest Hawaii Founder Kathy Xian.

Sixty-eight percent of all national on-campus sexual assaults happen in student housing, the U.S. Dept. of Education’s campus safety and security data analysis cutting tool reported.  This number was determined from statistics from colleges comparable to UHM in student size — public four-year institutions with enrollment of 20,000 to 30,000. Nationally, 293 cases were reported in these institutions in 2009.


The Silence of Sexual Assault 5

Photo by Annie McGuire, Flickr- Ethos Magazine

The UHM campus has been actively trying to combat sexual assault, domestic violence and sexual harassment for faculty, staff and students for years.

In 2002, UH started receiving funding from the Department of Justice for the PAVW program to provide training to all the campuses about sexual assault, stalking and relationship violence. It also facilitates collaboration between the campus and community agencies to improve services and responses.

Women’s Center project coordinator P. Jayne Bopp said in a previous article, “Violence against women programs have for the past several decades focused on assisting victims and survivors of violence or telling women how to avoid being a victim of assault. While these efforts are important and need to continue, they do not address the source of the problem: the men who commit these acts and the societal norms that allow these kinds of violence to continue to flourish.”

In 2005, the UHM campus made security enhancements after the local non-profit organization, Girl Fest Hawaii, proposed the campus to be a “Rape-Free Zone” after multiple rapes occurred on and around the UH campuses in 2004.

The group proposed changes to the university’s policies, publicity, security system, student housing and advisory council’s organization in addition to enhancing violence prevention education. Not all of the demands were met but the administration did improve the nighttime lighting, security cameras, magnetic card swipes and locks to entrances. They also improved some landscaping and the uniforms for campus security personnel.

“The demands were set up by students for students,” Xian said. “The students need to fight for these things to ensure safety.”

Camaron Miyamoto, administrative liaison and LGBT equality coordinator at UHM, said that since the “Rape-free zone” proposal for UHM, the college is now taking steps to look at institutional changes.  A sexual assault clause was added to the UHM code of conduct in 2006 (E1. 204).

“It is necessary to have a commitment that is implemented through policy and procedure, that does include finally having a statement in the policy on sexual assault that does impact all of UHM,” Miyamoto said.

In addition to the “Rape-free zone” changes and the PAVW grant, the UHM Women’s Center and the gender equity specialist are consistently training faculty and staff about sexual assault, domestic violence and sexual harassment and its affect on college students. Sample trainings include: gender violence, counter-intuitive behaviors, trends, warning signs, etc.

“Domestic violence and sexual assault in the media is a relatively new thing,” said Cabingabang. “The media focus on what women need to do to be safe but need to change to ideas of preventing assault through focusing on perpetrators.”

Jennifer Barnett, UHM Women’s Center Sexual Violence Prevention Program coordinator said, “Before, we trained security multiple times a semester, now we have changed it to multiple times a week at shorter times on one topic.”

Campus security currently takes extra steps to offer help to the victims.

“We work hand-in-hand with the Women’s Center to learn how to deal with these instances,” said Captain of Campus Security Donald Dawson. “We are trained to deal with victims and we make sure to see it through.”


The Silence of Sexual Assault 3

Photo by Annie McGuire, Flickr- Ethos Magazine

You know that text message or email you get every time something happens on campus? It’s part of the university’s security protocol, initiated from the Clery act.

The Jeanne Clery Act is a federal statute that requires all colleges and universities to keep and disclose information about crime on and near their campuses.

The law is named after Jeanne Clery, a 19-year-old Lehigh University freshman who was raped and murdered by another Lehigh student in her dormitory in 1986. The act was signed into law in 1990.

“We make sure that students are aware of what is happening on campus through the alert system via email, text or phone call,” Dawson said. Though the alerts are edited, they still provide the pertinent details.”

The act requires colleges and universities to publish and distribute their annual campus security report to students and employees. They must also maintain a crime log and collect the three most recent years of crime statistics. Each entry in the log must contain the nature, date, time and general location of each crime and disposition of the complaint.

Lastly, they must provide timely warnings of crimes that represent a threat to the safety of students or employees; hence the alert system.

All institutions are monitored by the U.S. Board of Education to ensure compliance.


“The amount of care and services we provide to victims is almost limitless,” Dawson said.

The Women’s Center and UHM offer many services for victims of sexual assault, rape, domestic violence and sexual discrimination. Services include:

A friendly staff, crisis services, counseling, legal advice, a resource library with a plethora of information and referrals to outside organizations with more resources and support.

Contact the Women’s Center for more information.


From UHM Campus Security, Here is a guideline:

  1. There is strength in numbers. Go to parties or clubs with friends and be responsible for each other.
  2. Control your alcohol; don’t let it control you. Drink responsibly or not at all, especially on first dates.
  3. Do not abuse any substance that might hinder your ability to say no.
  4. Know your limits. Don’t be embarrassed to say no or ask to stop.
  5. Trust your instincts. Guard your personal space.
  6. Learn some self-defense from an instructor.
  7. End the night early if date becomes drunk or abusive.
  8. Have access to a way of reaching help.
  9. Educate yourself on warning signs and techniques.


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Photo by Annie McGuire, Flickr- Ethos Magazine

From the UHM Women’s Center, Here’s what to do:

  1. Go to a safe place.
  2. Report the assault to police or campus security. UH campus security is available 24 hours a day. Campus security is accessible to you whether you live on or off campus.
  3. Call a family member, friend or campus advocate. If you live in the dorms, there are in-residence counselors living in the dorms who are available to help you 24 hours a day.
  4. Preserve all physical evidence of the assault. Do not shower or brush your teeth, and save all of the clothing you were wearing at the time. Place all garments in a paper, not plastic bag.
  5. You can call the Sex Abuse Treatment Center. They will send a counselor to meet you at Kapi`olani Hospital. There, you will receive special treatment from one of their doctors. All of their services are free and confidential.
  6. Go to Kapi`olani Hospital emergency room at 1319 Punahou Street. This hospital provides medical care for sexual assault victims, and not all hospitals provide the specialized forensic care you’ll need.
  7. Write down as much as you can remember about the circumstances of the assault, including a description of the assailant.
  8. Talk with a counselor who is trained to assist victims about the emotional and physical impacts of the assault. You can reach either the Women’s Center or Student Counseling to talk to a trained counselor.

For more information contact campus security at (956-6911), the women’s center at (956-8059).