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Anonymous reporting common at area campuses

The University of Wisconsin-Superior isn't the only campus in the area with an anonymous-report policy for sexual assault. The College of St. Scholastica Chief of Student Affairs Officer Steve Lyons said the college often deals with investigation...

The University of Wisconsin-Superior isn't the only campus in the area with an anonymous-report policy for sexual assault. The College of St. Scholastica Chief of Student Affairs Officer Steve Lyons said the college often deals with investigations internally.

"If we have somebody that either makes an anonymous report or comes to the sexual assault report staff and names a name, and says, 'I want to do something with this, but I don't want to go to the police' ... internally, if we have a name we'll do an investigation," Lyons said. "Based on what that leads us to, we'll apply sanctions to that perpetrator. Everything from expulsion to whatever [is] appropriate, depending on the circumstance."

Michelle Meyers, associate dean for student life at Northland College in Ashland, said Northland has a similar policy for reporting sexual assaults. Meyers also said a group of students is looking over the policy and is expected to make suggestions for change.

"Anonymous reporting has the potential of actually allowing people to come forward more and give us a greater awareness of what might be happening," Meyers said, "but it does make it a little bit more difficult to hold people accountable for their actions."

Meyers said the policy was set up to encourage victims to report sexual assaults. This, she said, is half the battle when dealing with sexual assault cases.

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"Unless the student is willing to come forward and let us know that something has happened, it ties our hands a little bit. We hear about it, we encourage them, but if they choose not to come in, it's not something we can make them do," she said.

Meyers said there haven't been any reports of sexual assault, anonymous or otherwise, on the Northland campus for at least the past five years.

The University of Minnesota Duluth and St. Scholastica have online sexual assault report forms, where students can submit an electronic report and remain anonymous.

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