RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina State University Police tell ABC11 they're taking steps to enhance campus safety following recent reports of sexual assault.
According to a Wolf Alert sent Wednesday night, police received a report of a sexual battery at Wolf Village Apartments - Arctic Hall. The victim in this case is not a student, and the suspect, was last seen near the McDonald's on Western Boulevard.
According to an ABC11 review of crime log data, it was the tenth report of sexual assault this semester; however, four reports were for prior incidents, and a fifth lacked publicly-available specific details regarding time and place.
"(I) have grave concern as a survivor myself for the impact this has on a student who is on-campus, who may not feel safe, and how that might impact academic outcomes, as well as socially and emotionally," said Monica Kearney, Executive Director of the Louisburg-based Safe Space, Inc., a non-profit which supports victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Kearney said groups like Safe Space, Inc. have received an uptick of reports since the beginning of the pandemic.
"COVID exacerbated every risk factor that causes violence and causes sexual violence in our communities," she explained.
Kearney and fellow advocate Monika Johnson Hostler, who serves as Executive Director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault, believe training and focusing on changing social norms is key.
"Creating an accountability system for your peers and those that if you're the advisor adult, you're creating some accountability so they truly know they will be held accountable. One of the things that happens, especially when we're talking about male-dominated places, we allow those to still use language that is predatory, or violent or dehumanizing to women and girls," Hostler said.
"And while that seems miniscule, if no one is calling you out on something like the way that you talk about women or women-identified folks, then that gives an open door to 'well we don't respect them, and we don't see them as equals. Of course they're property. We can sexually assault them without their being real emotional accountability," she added, when discussing the responsibility adults on campus hold, especially those in leadership positions.
While the number of reports are troubling, Hostler said survivors speaking up signifies an important step forward.
"While that's mixed emotions that sexual violence still occurs and quite frankly how frequently it occurs on college campuses, the fact that survivors are willing and okay to report is a step in the right direction," said Hostler.
She says steps like going to and leaving events in groups, not picking up drinks after placing them down, and learning how to identify signs of intoxication are important to maintaining a safe environment.
In a series of written response to ABC11, NC State Police say they have increased patrols following recent reports, and noted collaboration with Raleigh Police regarding both investigative and criminal prevention efforts. The department says it conducts ongoing assessments with campus partners about installing security stanchions and blue light cameras, a process which includes input from students.
For further guidance from NC State police, click here.