Tackling Sexual Assault at SMU

According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), 13% of all graduate and undergraduate students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation. Last year, The Daily Campus published testimonies from several students who detailed their experience with sexual assault as well of the university’s mechanisms or lack thereof to help them through the process.

A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) is a registered nurse who specializes in providing comprehensive care to sexual assault victims as well as can conduct a forensic exam and provide expert testimony if a case goes to trial. By adding a SANE on campus, the university would be providing direct access to confidential and necessary care concerning sexual assault.

According to Dedman Senator and Health Committee Chair Alex Fassnacht, this issue was raised in the 106th legislature where the Senate passed a proclamation illustrating the student’s interest to add a SANE nurse to campus.

“We did a lot of research on how other public and private schools within the state of Texas have already brought SANE nurses to campus. We presented the evidence to the Health Center and Dr. Jones who were extremely cooperative with us,” said Fassachat.

The Health Center is looking to partner with Turning Point Crisis Center in Plano, Texas in order to provide students access to a SANE nurse. “Molly Patrick really pushed this issue on the radar. In terms of logistics, if a student wanted to go through the Health Center for a sexual assault examination, they could call the health center which would connect them with the 24/7 SANE nurse through Turning Point Center. A SANE nurse and an advocate would be able to set up on site and conduct an exam at our facility if necessary. In terms of storage, Turning Point would be responsible for storing any evidence from the examination as they have the facility to make sure that evidence is secure,” said Dr. Randy Jones, Executive Director of the Health Center.

With the SANE nurse being on the Senate’s agenda for several sessions, the Health Center and Senate representatives confirm that they are hoping to have these services available in 2022 potentially as early as January. “This is one step in the right direction, but it is not the end. The next steps for me and for the Senate at large and the student body is to continue to build a culture that is safe, welcoming, and provides resources for students that do go through an event like this,” said Austin Hickle, SMU Student Body President.