New report shows number of rapes reported at KU has doubled over past year

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LAWRENCE, Kan. -- The number of rapes reported on the University of Kansas campus has doubled over the past year, according to a new safety report.

That news was concerning to many KU students.

“I've heard around campus there`s been a lot of gropings happening by men just coming up and touching women and run away. It`s been posted around the dorms,” said Ariana Novicoff, a KU freshman.

“It`s concerning to me as a female college student, especially because I`m a music student and I do a lot of late nights at the music building. And I moved specifically to Downs dorm so that I`m closer because I have to frequently walk home at night, around 10 when I`m done practicing, and it`s dark, and there`s not a lot of emergency poles,” added Bella Schwerin, a sophomore at KU.

KU students said hearing about the increase in complaints of sexual misconduct on campus in 2017 is a scary reminder that rape can happen anywhere.

“It`s very concerning. I don`t feel safe walking around at night, as I`m sure many other women don`t either,” Novicoff said.

“I used to walk up Daisy Hill, and almost every time I walked, someone would yell at me out the window, catcalling and stuff, asking me to get in the car and everything,” Schwerin added.

A spokesperson for the university confirms nine rapes reported in 2017 were in campus housing. If off-campus locations affiliated with KU are included, 14 rapes were reported.

“My friend has had to call me when she`s walking home because she doesn't feel safe, so I feel like that`s a big problem on college campuses,” Novicoff said. “I`m always kind of on guard when I`m in there because you never really know. It`s pretty easy to get in and out. You just have someone hold the door open for you, so it`s never really safe.”

Many students said they have to always take precautions, like walking in pairs, carrying their car keys or calling a friend as they walk.

“It`s sad that we have to do that,” Novicoff said.

Students added that university police have been giving them information and sending out emails about how to be more cautious.

They believe the #MeToo movement and recent, public investigations of sexual assault might have helped people find the strength to come forward.

“I think people now are more comfortable coming out and saying that things have happened. They don`t feel like they`ll get embarrassed or ridiculed about it,” Novicoff said.

A university spokesperson said they know sexual violence is vastly under-reported, and when they see an increase in reports like this, they hope it's because people are comfortable coming forward and using the support and resources KU has available.

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