“My first reaction, usually to an increase in numbers, is good. It means we’re doing our job,” says Erin Thornely Parisi, executive director of the Rape Crisis Center.
For several years, the Rape Crisis Center and UW-Madison have been working to break down the barriers to reporting incidents of sexual assault. Education and outreach efforts have made a goal of letting victims of sexual assault know they don’t have to suffer in silence. The belief is the reporting of sexual assaults has increased, and not necessarily the incidents themselves.
In 2015 there were 217 reported incidents of sexual assault by UW-Madison students. That number rose to 325 in 2016.
“I think the university has done a great job. I know that they needed to step up, and I feel like they did. They have a lot of work to do, but they are taking this seriously and they really have a lot of people out taking about it, and that’s really important,” says Thornley Parisi.
A survey conducted in 2015 showed that roughly one in four undergraduate women at UW-Madison had experienced sexual assault or misconduct.