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Incident ignites Marshall assault response system

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A conversation between a student and her resident adviser at Marshall University early Thursday morning set off a chain reaction of events designed to support the student and keep Marshall’s student population informed and safe.

The student reported to her R.A. that she was sexually assaulted at about 3:30 a.m. Thursday, and by 4 a.m., the R.A. had reported the incident to the Marshall University Police Department.

As of press time Thursday, the student had not filed a report with the police department, but the alert brought forth the system of bells and whistles in place at the university to support students who are victims of sexual assault and prevent such assaults in the future.

“I see a big difference in awareness that sexual assault crimes happen than when I started in this field,” said Leah Tolliver, director of the Women’s Center at Marshall. “From the historical perspective, there’s huge work that’s being done, and that’s good. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop the crime from happening, but I think now we can better address the needs of victims and better encourage our students on how to get that support and how to help others.”

There are multiple options for students who are victims of sexual assault to report the incident.

In Thursday’s case, the R.A. who heard the case is bound by law to inform MUPD about the incident.

MUPD is bound by the Clery Act, which requires all colleges and universities who participate in federal student aid programs to disclose campus safety information. That means the university legally is required to inform students when a sexual assault report is made…

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