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Utah State University releases sexual assault prevention survey results

Utah State Senior Prevention Specialist, Emmalee Fishburn, speaks out about how important it is for USU students and faculty to educate themselves about sexual misconduct, consent, culture change and more.
Levi Sim
Utah State University
Utah State Senior Prevention Specialist, Emmalee Fishburn, speaks out about how important it is for USU students and faculty to educate themselves about sexual misconduct, consent, culture change and more.

After a lawsuit against Utah State University was filed in early December alleging school administration mishandled reports of sexual assault, USU senior prevention specialist, Emmalee Fishburn said it is time for traditional students, student-athletes and employees of the institution to be responsible and properly educate themselves about sexual assault prevention.

“Training and education is a piece of the puzzle, but it’s not the whole puzzle," Fishburn said. "When we talk about training and education, I can have the best trainers in the world and we can go in and have these awesome conversations with folks, but then it becomes up to them to make some choices related to that content. They are the ones required to enact upon the skills; they are the ones who are required to adopt the new practices we taught them.”

As a result of the lawsuit and sexual misconduct becoming a more prominent conversation on campus. Graduate student, Jessica Marinho, said she hopes for immediate change.

“I definitely don’t feel safe on campus; I try to avoid being on campus after dark and I definitely think that a department needs to take these accusations more seriously--especially if one student accuses another of sexual assault,” Marinho said.

USU students and employees must participate in a sexual assault prevention training each academic year. If an employee or student fails to participate in the training, they risk losing their job or not being allowed to register for the next semester. Athletes have an additional sexual misconduct training they must complete in order to continue playing their sport.

To further sexual assault prevention, Fishburn said she and her team are working on additional trainings for employees and students, as well as new implementation of ideas to the existing campus sexual assault trainings.

“I expect that additional information about what victim blaming is, what it looks like, the kinds of things that are looked over will be added to training," Fishburn said. "I expect additional new campaigns and more trainings will be coming out for students, employees, and athletics. I also expect that we’ll do some more conversations about being an off-stander and seeing when problematic things are going on.”

A recent student sexual misconduct survey report was released this week. Amanda DeRito, a spokesperson from University Marketing & Communications, said this report provides critical information for the university in addressing these issues.

The student survey had an overall 14% response rate for all USU statewide campuses, and the response rate for the Logan campus was 29.1%. It was lower than the last time this survey was conducted in 2019. It was also noted that about 89% of participants think that USU takes training in sexual misconduct prevention seriously.

“We still saw some pretty sizable increases in terms of percentages of students feeling safe on the USU campus," Fishburn said. "We did a little bit of surveying about student perceptions of what could enhance sexual misconduct reporting by students in the future. That was a new set of questions that we particularly addressed in this survey.”

Fishburn said it is important to understand that as much as she and her team would love to continue pushing for sexual misconduct prevention on campus, it is essentially up to students and employees to take on the responsibility of educating themselves and pushing for prevention as a community.

Sydney Lasike graduated from Dixie State University, in St. George, Utah, in 3 years with a bachelors degree in Media Studies (Multimedia Journalism Emphasis). There, she competed as a student-athlete on the women’s volleyball team, and was the Features Editor of the school newspaper, Dixie Sun News. She was awarded the 2021 Media Studies Student of the Year Award, and graduated with Latin Honors - Magna Cum Laude.