Reported sexual assault

January 26, 2022

Note: You are receiving this message because federal law requires institutions of higher education to alert the campus community when certain crimes occur on or near certain campus property that presents a serious or ongoing threat. The intent is to provide information so individuals can take appropriate measures to best protect themselves. Notifications are based on when the university receives the report. More information is available here.

Trigger Warning: This alert discusses sensitive information pertaining to sexual misconduct. Information about resources is available here.

On Wednesday, January 26, the Office of Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action (OEO) was notified of a reported sexual assault that occurred at the Kappa Sigma Fraternity House at approximately 1 a.m. on September 22, 2021.

A student reported attending a “Wine Wednesday” party at the fraternity house with friends. Wine was provided by the chapter. The victim reported being sexually assaulted while in the dance floor room. The victim ultimately left the house with friends. The individuals were reportedly unknown to each other before the party.

In response to this report, the university contacted the Salt Lake City Police Department to notify them of the incident. While the fraternity house falls within the university’s federally required geographic reporting area, the location is off-campus and within the Salt Lake City Police Department’s jurisdiction. If you know anything about this incident, please call the Salt Lake City Police at 801-799-3000, to provide information for any future investigation.

University leaders also visited the named fraternity house on Wednesday to confirm that no “Wine Wednesday” event occurred tonight.

If you have been harmed by sexual assault, please reach out to the university’s victim-survivor advocates (VSAs). To make an appointment: call 801-581-7776, or email advocate@sa.utah.edu.

Prevention and Safety Tips:

This safety warning is being issued as part of the University of Utah’s efforts to provide timely notifications about serious or ongoing threats to the campus community. While it may be distressing to learn about this incident, it is being shared so you can best protect yourself. Responsibility for a crime lies with the person committing it; however, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of experiencing crime. Note: timely notifications are based on when the university receives the report. Please remember:

  • If you or someone you know is a victim of interpersonal violence, call the LINK line at 1-800-897-LINK (5465) or visit the Center for Excellence in Women’s Health website.
  • Consent is required for all sexual interactions. Consent cannot be granted if a person is under the influence of alcohol, coerced, or under duress or force. If you are unsure if a person wants to engage in sexual behavior, DO NOT DO IT.
  • Coercion includes “wearing a person down” until they say yes. This is not consent.
  • The vast majority of sexual assault occurs between two people who know each other. Usually victims of sexual assault know, and sometimes trust, the person who hurt them.
  • If you notice one of your friends ignoring another person’s boundaries, remove your friend from the situation and tell them their behavior is not OK.
  • If you’re meeting someone new, let others know when and where you’re meeting and plan to meet in a public setting. Trust your gut if anything feels off.
  • Use the U’s SafeRide program or a courtesy escort (main campus: 801-585-2677; University Hospital: 801-581-2294) to get around campus.
  • Let a family member or friend know when you’re going somewhere and your estimated time of arrival or return. This allows them to notify police as quickly as possible if there is a problem.
  • If you feel uneasy, leave the area. Go to a safe location and notify University Police at 801-585-2677, or in case of an emergency, dial 911.
  • Take care of one another and consider stopping and being present until help arrives in situations where someone may be experiencing harm. The person causing harm may stop if other people are around.
  • Report any suspicious activities to University Police at 801-585-2677. Be prepared to provide as many details as possible.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid distractions, especially when walking alone. Try to avoid isolated or dark areas. Walk in groups whenever you can—there is safety in numbers.
  • If a person approaches you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, maintain a distance and be observant; if they are in a vehicle, get the license plate number, make, model, color, and any additional identifiers, such as damage to the vehicle and direction of flight, if possible.

Support and Resources

Message from University of Utah Police Chief Jason Hinojosa

Statement from University of Utah Police

Tuesday, January 11, 2022 

University of Utah Police are investigating reports of a bomb threat against our Black Cultural Center this morning (01/11/22) deliberately, but also with urgency, to determine the person or persons responsible and hold them accountable.

Briefly: Early Tuesday morning, a crisis center call line in Hollywood, California received a call alleging a bomb was placed in the cultural center in Fort Douglas.

  • Officers immediately responded at 4:25 a.m. with bomb-sniffing dogs and searched the building.
  • Officers confirmed that the building was unoccupied, no bomb was found, and the building was secured.
  • Because there was no immediate threat to life, the police chief determined a “timely warning” through the campus alert system was not necessary.

Similar threats were made simultaneously against several other universities. This threat against our Black Cultural Center comes only a week after recent bomb scares targeted eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country, and just a week before our country honors the memory and the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The University of Utah is not a haven for this kind of hateful and biased thinking and attacks, and university leaders have committed to completing a thorough review with actionable steps to be implemented during the spring semester.

This assault on the security of our Black students, faculty and staff requires sensitivity, compassion and timely action. We will provide more information as it becomes available. The incident was also reported to the Racist & Bias Incident Response Team (RBIRT).

Keith Squires Named University of Utah Chief Safety Officer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Squires has been serving as interim chief safety officer since April 2021. His appointment to lead the university’s safety operations is effective as of Jan. 1, 2022, and provides continuity of leadership and strategic initiatives, including the work already underway to become accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

“We are pleased to have such a seasoned public safety executive lead our campus safety initiatives,” said University of Utah President Taylor Randall. “Keith Squires brings a wealth of experience to this important job—both from his many years as Utah’s Commissioner of Public Safety, as well as his time helping to build our newly reimagined University Safety Department.”

Squires was appointed interim chief safety officer when inaugural Chief Safety Officer Marlon Lynch accepted a similar position at his alma mater, Michigan State University. Lynch hired Squires in July 2020 as his executive officer.

The hiring of a chief safety officer was among one of the most significant and visible investments made to campus safety by Ruth Watkins, president emerita, in 2019. Lynch moved quickly after joining the U to make changes to the public safety infrastructure with the goal of increasing capacity, improving accountability and transparency and moving safety efforts forward to best serve the U community.

Some of the changes implemented by Lynch and Squires include establishing new safety divisions, creating new safety committees and developing a SafeU Student Ambassador program. A new, centralized administrative office guides strategic initiatives, communication, campus partnerships and relationships with external public safety agencies.

“I’m honored to continue leading the University Safety Department,” Squires said. “This work involves going beyond historical policing. With the changes we are implementing, University Safety operations are becoming part of a holistic, transparent and strategic effort that allows us to work genuinely with our campus community in creating an environment where everyone can feel safe with a sense of belonging. I’m confident that our continued innovations will demonstrate effectiveness and help serve as a model for others.”

Prior to joining the university, Squires served in former Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s cabinet, retiring in 2018 after 31 years as a law enforcement officer. His years in public safety include serving as homeland security advisor to two Utah governors; leading the State Bureau of Investigation and Utah Highway Patrol; and working as a local law enforcement advisor to U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Squires holds a master’s degree in homeland defense and security from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, a bachelor’s degree in administration of criminal justice and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and FBI National Executive Institute.

“Keith Squires has provided a steady hand in our University of Utah Safety Department as we made important structural and cultural changes,” said Cathy Anderson, the U’s chief administrative and financial officer. “His appointment will provide critical continuity as we continue to elevate, innovate and improve safety operations.”

As chief safety officer, Squires will oversee University Police, Emergency Management, U of U Health Security, Campus Security, Emergency Communications and Community Services.

Contacts: Rebecca Walsh, Associate Director, University Marketing & Communications, 801-550-4930, rebecca.walsh@utah.edu