The UNCW Police Department received a report around 11 a.m. Thursday of a sexual assault on the UNCW campus.
According to the UNCW PD, the assault allegedly occurred early Thursday at the on-campus residence of the female student victim, less than 24 hours after the classes started for the new semester.
The alleged male suspect, also a UNCW student, is reportedly an acquaintance of the victim.
UNCW police are investigating the case, and at this time are not releasing any more information.
Some students at UNCW said they were shocked when they heard about a sexual assault taking place on campus less than 24 hours after classes started.
Many students told wect.com they received an e-mail from campus police informing them of the reported assault.
"When I got the e-mail, I was watching a movie with my roommates, we were just like, 'What?', said UNCW senior, Rebecca Lester.
"When I got here this morning, everyone was just kind of shocked," UNCW senior, Laura Zamora said. "It's insane that this happened on the first day of class," Lester added.
Other students said they were not surprised and assaults occur more often than people know. "It happens and people need to realize that," said UNCW junior, Samantha Wilhem. She said she hopes more people will become aware that it is an issue and lookout for one another.
"We need to watch out for one another and end this," Wilhem said.
Dr. Rebecca Caldwell the Director of Substance Abuse & Violence Prevention at UNCW, said she also hopes the dialogue on campus will empower other victims come forward.
"While it has tragic and I think the campus community is heartbroken to know that somebody has already been harmed, if the one positive that could come from that would be students would have more conversations with each other...about the fact that this is a very real risk. And as a campus we are responsible for taking care of each other. [Also] that people talk more about resources or maybe more people reach out for help who hadn't had a chance to reach out before," Dr. Caldwell said.
UNCW and the greater Wilmington area have several resources available to assist victims of sexual assaults and other crimes, and to help prevent these types of circumstances from occurring.
To learn more, please visit the webpage for UNCW's Center for Assault Response and Education (CARE), where you can access information about personal safety, how to provide assistance to friends, and contact information for many services available both on and off campus.
"[Victims] can talk to anyone at the University but they can particularly talk to the C.A.R.E. office, the counseling center and the Student Health Center. We are confidential resources that students can reach out to without having to disclose anything within the broader arena. Anyone who they reach out to is going to make sure that they have the right resources and know about their options," said Dr. Caldwell.
She said staff will help students in a number of ways, from counseling, to helping them switch classes or report the crime to the criminal justice system or through the school misconduct policy.
Dr. Caldwell said students have a choice of if they want to try the case in the criminal justice system or through the school, both or neither.
"We leave that choice with the student as much as possible to create a trauma informed victim center process. We know that when one of these crimes happens to you, especially sexual violence, it is a situation in which someone else has taken away your power and control. Allowing the student to be in the drivers seat, to know for themselves, and discern for themselves what is right for them," Dr. Caldwell said. "We try to leave that with them as much as possible. We know that is the most empowering thing we can do for them, and so we will do that to the best of our abilities while weighing out the broader issue of campus safety. She said if campus safety is considered threatened, then the school will move forward with an investigation.
The following are ways to contact the University's police department, as listed on the UNCW homepage:
• In an Emergency dial 911 from any on-campus phone and cell phone.
• Non-emergency calls can be placed to 910.962.2222
• To share information anonymously call 962-TIPS or by e-mail fromwww.uncw.edu/police
• Text-a-Tip, text TIP708 and your message to CRIMES (274637). Your message must begin with TIP 708.
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