WVU Community Notice highlights campus resources, education for sexual assault, Title IX

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In light of calls for action in recent protests at colleges and universities across the country, including on the Morgantown campus, and as part of an overall commitment to providing a safe environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors, West Virginia University is reminding the campus community of its education and awareness efforts in several key areas including personal safety, sexual assault, and other Title IX-related crimes.

The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is home to WVU’s Title IX coordinator who oversees investigations of all civil rights-based complaints, including Title IX complaints and ensuring that access to University programs and activities is not prohibited on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Students walk in and out of the Mountainlair on a rainy first day of classes Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. (WVU Photo/Jennifer Shephard)

This work includes investigating reports of sexual assault – crimes such as rape, sexual abuse and fondling.

“We support the choices survivors make – whether or not to report, and to whom to report – and recognize that these choices are particularly difficult in some cases,” said James Goins, Jr., WVU’s Director of Equity Assurance and Title IX coordinator. “When a sexual assault occurs, I want to be clear that it is never the victim’s fault.”

Amy Kittle serves as the assistant director for Prevention and Education with DEI.

“Knowing what to do and who to talk to can be confusing,” Kittle said. “There are people here to guide you to support and resources. We want to help you feel safer and informed following the aftermath of an assault.”

The DEI website includes information about how to report abuse or file a complaint, the process and a detailed flow chart that walks through it step by step, as well as support offered along the way. For those who wish to speak to someone anonymously, call or text the Title IX On-Call Line at 304-906-9930 where someone is available 24 hours a day.

Additional resources and guidance specifically related to sexual assault are also available at safety.wvu.edu.

Ruby Memorial Hospital, where WVU sexual assault victims receive free medical care

Anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted (or has witnessed a potential assault) should get to a safe place immediately and call 911 as soon as possible to report what happened. The sooner a sexual assault is reported, the easier it is to collect valuable evidence and begin support services.

Considerations following an assault include:

  1. Not to bathe, douche or brush teeth (this will allow law-enforcement and medical professionals to collect evidence). And do not wash clothing (put it in a disposable bag and bring it to the emergency room).
  2. Regardless, go to an emergency room and get a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam. WVU students who are victims of sexual assault can obtain a SAFE exam and related medical treatment for free at J. W. Ruby Memorial Hospital when they present their WVU ID.
    Directions to J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital Emergency Room
    Directions to Mon Health Medical Center Emergency Room
  3. Tell someone — a trusted friend, parent or relative. Call someone you can talk to, no matter how late it is. You can always find and talk to a resident assistant, resident director or any member of the Student Affairs staff. These staff are required to report disclosures to the Title IX coordinator.
  4. Call the local rape and domestic violence center at 304-292-5100. An advocate is trained to help victims know their medical and legal options and provide emotional support. For a 24-hour hotline call 1-888-825-7835.

Victims and/or witnesses are strongly encouraged to report the assault to the WVU Title IX Coordinator:

James Goins
Director of Equity Assurance and Title IX Coordinator
WVU Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
P.O. Box 6202
1085 Van Voorhis Road
Morgantown, WV 26506
Phone: 304-293-5600
Email: james.goins@mail.wvu.edu

Prevention, Kittle said, is WVU’s number one strategy because it would rather be proactive than reactive.

Amy Kittle

The name of our team is the prevention education team and so providing support and resources is incredibly important. But the name of the game is prevention. The name of the game is preventing these harms from ever occurring in the first place. And so, we’re a team of four and we are constantly busy. We work with students, faculty and staff. We do all kinds of trainings and education but also awareness campaigns. And so, this would include information on Title IX and how to report. It would include explaining what behaviors are prohibited both under university policy and the law, but it also includes educating students on things like consent.

Amy Kittle — Assistant Director for Prevention and Education with DEI

WVU says preventing assault begins and ends with the offender. The victim is never responsible. However, establishing boundaries and being aware of your surroundings can help you stay safe.

  • Know your limits and communicate them clearly and firmly to your partner. Decide what you are willing to do sexually. Never assume that others know how you feel.
  • Recognize people who are disrespectful to you. This includes someone who tries to make you feel guilty for saying “no,” doesn’t respect your limits, tries to get you drunk or tries to give you drugs.
  • Trust your feelings. Leave if you feel uncomfortable.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid secluded places, especially with someone you don’t know well.
  • Download the LiveSafe app, which enables direct and discreet two-way communication with University Police using text, photo, video and audio. It also lets you virtually walk your friends and family home with SafeWalk.
  • Submit a complaintto the Title IX Office anytime you believe a violation has occurred (students, faculty and staff can submit).

WVU is always working to ensure the campus community is safe and inclusive and has recently joined 20 colleges and universities in the Culture of Respect Collective. The two-year program is focused on improving the reporting of sexual violence on campus and, ultimately, preventing it.

The university will share more information, guidance and specific resources available as part of this continuing education and awareness effort in the coming weeks and months.

Health, safety, preparedness and training resources are posted at safety.wvu.edu and also available at police.wvu.edu.

Students and employees are encouraged to follow the WVU Safety and Wellness Facebook page and @WVUsafety on Twitter.

A Community Notice is part of WVU’s three-tiered emergency notification system used to enhance student and employee safety and provide useful information to the community.

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