'Campus Choice' and more security help keep SOU campus safe

Southern Oregon University utilizes the Blue Light system so students can contact Campus Public Safety directly. (KTVL/Mike Marut)

Ashland, Ore. - From 2010 to 2015, Southern Oregon University's Angela Fleischer, Assistant Director of Student Support and Intervention for Confidential Advising at the university, says reports of rape and sexual assault jumped from eight to 97 reported cases.

She says it's not the number of incidents rising though.

"It's reporting that's going up," Fleischer said. "So as we're seeing more reports, it's a more accurate depiction of what's happening from community to community. If anything, I would guess that incidents in our community here are going down because of the response we have here."

To limit the number of incidents, SOU developed a program called 'Campus Choice' to help encourage rape and sexual assault victims to come forward. The program gives the students a choice of administrative action and law enforcement/legal action. Students can choose one or both options.

"We can design our educational programs to meet [the higher number of reports]," Fleischer said. "We can design our response programs to meet that; we can feel assured that we have a clear picture of what's happening here."

Beyond rape and sexual assault, the campus is filled with blue light cameras to help students feel safe. If somebody presses the red emergency button, Campus Public Safety is immediately contacted.

"We've been in training all summer long, doing different types of training programs and stuff," Frederick Creek, Director of Campus Public Safety, said. "Plus we're actively engaged in the different programming here on campus, so it's not like we're just walking around writing parking tickets or only responding to the parties that happen and stuff like that."

When crimes occur in Ashland, Campus Public Safety and Ashland Police work together.

"They communicated with us right away and [were] able to send out communication to our students, like required, and [we were] able to make it a safe environment," Creek said.

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