by: Erica Byfield Updated:
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Seven Emory University students have been sexually assaulted in the last two months, school officials told Channel 2 Action News.
All of the assaults happened at various locations on campus: three inside residence halls on the Clairmont Campus, one at Harris Hall, another at an unknown location on campus and the last two at the Sigma Nu and Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity houses. Emory said all seven women were assaulted by acquaintances.
"All the students I've met in my tenure at Emory have experienced sexual violence by someone they know," said Lauren Bernstein, coordinator of the school's Respect program, which works to prevent sexual assault and relationship violence on campus.
She told Channel 2's Erica Byfield that most victims want to remain anonymous, so she talks to them and then reports the incidents on their behalf to campus police.
Bernstein also said one in every four college women are sexually assaulted. Therefore, she and other officials believe there are many more victims that staff members don't know about.
"Survivors of sexual assault really need support," Bernstein said.
So far this year, there have been 18 sexual assaults on campus, according to officials. In 2011, there were 12. Bernstein told Byfield increased reporting should not cause concern.
"This is not an increase in incidents. It’s an increase in students feeling comfortable enough to get that support," she said.
Channel 2 reached out to the national offices of the fraternities involved, and representatives for both said they were aware of the incidents and working with campus officials.
In an effort to curb the number of incidents and determine the actual number of assaults, university leaders are pushing a campus-wide assault education campaign.
"Emory provides resources and programs to ensure that all members of the community feel safe on campus, and are encouraged to report all incidents of sexual assault so that the appropriate support services can be provided," the university said in a statement.
Channel 2 also learned since the victims want to remain anonymous, campus police are aware of the crimes but can't investigate them.