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On November 8, Title IX Coordinator Ashley Blamey sent a message to the campus community regarding reports of sexual assault occurring on campus.

Dear campus community,

There have been seven reports of rape occurring on campus so far this semester. I want to talk to you about the facts behind the numbers.

One sexual assault is one too many.

Each of these reports means a real person in our Volunteer family has told us about an event that is traumatic, emotionally complex, and often difficult to process. It’s not just a number—it’s one of your friends, classmates, or neighbors.

There are patterns in the reports I’ve seen this semester. Offenders—some students, some not—are connecting with potential victims through social media apps or at bars and parties where alcohol is consumed. When reports are made, we call these offenders “known to the student,” which means they aren’t strangers breaking into residence hall rooms or waiting in a dark alley. These are acquaintances or members of a student’s social circle who take advantage of their victims in their residence hall rooms and, in some cases, when they are intoxicated and unable to give consent. Individuals who reported had no reason to believe that the person they were with would harm them when they were most vulnerable.

The numbers of reports is consistent historically over the past few years. At this time in 2017, there were 16 reports. In 2016, there were 10.

As we move forward in our work to prevent sexual misconduct, we need your help. There are two major things you can do to prevent sexual misconduct: be clear and direct in asking for and giving consent to participate in sexual activity, and actively protect your fellow Vols from potential harm.

Obtain consent

  • Consent is an active agreement to participate. If someone says no, it means no. If someone is silent, stop and ask.
  • If you have a doubt at any point in your time with a person that you do not have clear consent, stop.
  • If someone is incapacitated, they cannot give consent. If you are uncertain if the person is incapacitated, stop.
  • Consent is not implied by a person’s clothing, reputation, consumption of alcohol or drugs, consent to previous sexual acts (even during the same night), or your historical relationship to the person. If you are uncertain that you have consent, stop.

Remember that Vols help Vols

  • If you are with a friend and they are drinking, do not leave them behind. If you are unsure about your friend’s safety, help keep them safe. Later, when your friend is sober, have a conversation with them about your concern for their future safety.
  • Volunteers Speak Up!: Be an active bystander. When something is not right, trust your inner voice, acknowledge the situation, evaluate your options, assume responsibility, and respond appropriately.

You can find a lot of information about these issues, including how to report, how to connect with resources, and how to help each other, on the websites of the Office of Title IX and the Center for Health Education and Wellness as well as UT’s Clery Act website.

My door is always open to you.

Respectfully,

Ashley Blamey
Title IX Coordinator