June 22, 2024

Office of Title IX: “Behind the numbers”

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Title IX Office released a statement about the number of reported sexual assault cases this semester.

Torchbearer Statue in Circle Park / Chelsea Babin

Since the semester began, individuals have filed seven reports of rape on campus.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Title IX Office released a statement about the growing number of sexual assault reports this semester. Title IX Coordinator Ashley Blamey shared information behind the number of reported sexual assault cases in a campus-wide email Nov. 8.

“One sexual assault is one too many,” Blamey said. “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.”

Blamey continued to say that she noticed a pattern developing in reports this semester. Some assailants are students and some are not; however, the pattern reveals links between victims, social media apps and places where alcohol is consumed.

Additionally, Blamey mentioned most reports say perpetrators were “known to the student.”

“These are acquaintances or members of a student’s social circle who take advantage of their victims in their residence hall rooms,” Blamey said. “And in some cases, when they are intoxicated and unable to give consent.”

While the number of reports seems to be growing rapidly, they remain consistent in comparison to the last few years. According to Blamey’s statement, at this time in 2016, there were 10 reports. In 2017, there were 16 reports of sexual assault.

Moving forward, Blamey lists two steps for sexual harassment prevention: obtaining and giving consent, and helping and protecting peers.

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.

No matter what, UT’s Title IX office commits to maintaining a safe and non-discriminatory environment on campus for all Vols.

“My door is always open to you,” Blamey said.

Regarding help for both victims and bystanders, more information can be found on the Office of Title IX’s website, the Center for Health Education and Wellness or UT’s Clery Act website.

Featured photo by Chelsea Babin

Edited by Ainsley Kelso