Student Raped in Sleep, Backlash to Alert Prompts Admin Review

The University sent a follow-up email after backlash for the use of the term “sexual intercourse” and the lack of a content warning in the alert.

By Tony Brooks, News Editor

Eric M. Heath, associate vice president for safety and security, said the University is re-examinaing its procedures after widespread backlash to a security alert that described a rape as “sexual intercourse,” though he did not apologize for the wording.

The Friday alert said that a student “went to sleep in her unlocked room at International House, 1414 East 59th Street. She was awoken sometime later by an individual known to her who was on top of her having sexual intercourse.”

Outrage at the use of the term “sexual intercourse” to describe the assault, and the choice not to include a content warning about the explicit material prompted the University to issue the follow-up message Sunday morning.

“We appreciate the concerns that have been communicated about the information and wording of the alert, including with respect to the characterization of the crime,” the e-mail from Heath and Bridget Collier said. “We welcome your feedback as we continue to refine and improve the way we communicate about reports of sexual misconduct to our community.”

The University rarely sends security alerts for cases of sexual assault. According to the University’s policies, alerts are only sent if a crime presents a continued threat, and “the goal of sending a timely security alert is to give members of the campus community information that will allow them to adjust their behavior to protect their personal safety.”

According to the University of Chicago Police Department’s incident report, the Department of Safety and Security was notified by a mandated reporter that a student was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance at around midnight on May 3. There was no police investigation, and the case was referred to the Title IX office.