MTSU searches for coordinator to enhance campus safety

As part of MTSU’s continuing efforts to enhance security on campus, the university is creating a new post to deal specifically with sexual assault cases.

“Our desire is to help put someone in place from our department who can work with these people who might be victims to help them discover the right pathway for them,” said Buddy Peaster, chief of MTSU’s University Police Department.

Chief Buddy Peaster

Chief Buddy Peaster

The new coordinator will provide immediate response to reported sexual assault incidents and help the victims navigate the university’s judicial and administrative processes.

Other responsibilities include developing training modules, working on campuswide sexual assault prevention education and creating policies and partnerships to help reduce sexual assaults.

Peaster said situations that might require the liaison’s assistance include, for example, getting victims out of classes attended by alleged perpetrators or out of housing where alleged perpetrators also live.

MTSU police badge webThe liaison also will work to coordinate efforts among other on-campus entities that traditionally have dealt with sexual assault victims, such as the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, the Student Counseling Center, Health Services, Health Promotion and the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance.

Forming partnerships with agencies in the external community, such as the Domestic Assault Program and Sexual Assault Services of Rutherford County, also is a priority for the liaison, the chief said, adding that the MTSU department also will be working with the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police to develop policies.

TACP logo webPeaster said police will continue to respect victims’ privacy while balancing those rights with the need to protect the public.

“We feel like our person will be able to give great guidance and assurance to people who are really wanting to do the right thing,” Peaster said.

The sexual assault intervention liaison coordinator’s position is posted at MTSU’s job site at http://mtsujobs.mtsu.edu. Applications will close on Monday, Oct. 26.

The coordinator’s position is grant-funded for three years. Its renewal is contingent on additional funding.

Peaster said, however, that he intends the position ultimately to become a permanent one. He said the tremendous growth in Murfreesboro over the past few years has resulted in a greater need for services.

“I think we have to keep our thumb on the pulse of growth and changes in the community, both physical and social, and provide resources and make sure we are continuing to do the things we need to do,” Peaster said.

Six on-campus sexual offenses were reported in 2014, according to statistics submitted by campus police for the university’s annual security report. Two of those offenses occurred in student residences.

For more information, contact Peaster at 615-898-2426 or buddy.peaster@mtsu.edu or MTSU’s Office of Human Resources at 615-898-2929.

You can also obtain more information about campus safety at a new website created by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women, The Center for Changing Our Campus Culture. www.changingourcampus.org, a new comprehensive online clearinghouse on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking on campus.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)