Students at two Utah universities bemoan lack of communication on sexual assaults, racist materials

Main entrance to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, undated | Photo by desertsolitaire/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

(ASSOCIATED PRESS) — In separate incidents, students at both the University of Utah and Weber State University expressed frustration with the communication by school officials in response to on-campus incidents.

A University of Utah student leader wants the school to improve its communication with its student body, particularly regarding investigations into two recent sexual assaults.

KUTV reports Student Senate Chair Kaitlin McLean says she doesn’t think every student feels safe right now following a sexual assault on campus Saturday and another on March 26.

McLean praised the university’s efforts to send alerts on sexual assaults and would like to see continued information-sharing.

University of Utah Police Lt. Brian Wahlin says investigators are working hard to find the suspect in the Saturday assault.

University police released surveillance photos of a dark-colored Toyota Tacoma truck that was driven by the suspect.

The department also has been working on the March 26 case but has not released much information.

No one has been charged or arrested in either case.

Students at Weber State have expressed frustration with the administration’s response to racist stickers and posters found at the school.

The students are unhappy with the university’s actions after material promoting white supremacy appeared the weekend of March 30-31 on buildings and other structures around the Ogden campus, The Standard-Examiner reported Sunday.

Some students said many at the school about 38 miles north of Salt Lake City were unaware because an alert about the stickers was not extensively communicated.

University President Brad Mortensen released a statement April 10.

“At Weber State, we vigorously protect free speech and the diversity of ideas,” Mortensen said in the statement. “Nonetheless, we call out racist and hateful speech aimed at intimidating and frightening individuals and communities.”

The timing of Mortensen’s comments frustrated some students.

“I just don’t understand why the statement took so long to come out when these stickers were on campus (two weeks ago),” said JaLisa Lee, president of student organization Black Scholars United.

Staff removed the offensive material before classes resumed April 1, said Public Relations Director Allison Hess.

The university did not want to draw additional publicity to the white supremacy group, Hess said.

The administration sent a message to student leaders and campus offices about the stickers, she said.

The message invited students to share campus safety concerns on a student union white board April 2, which were addressed in a follow-up conversation with the chief diversity officer April 4, Hess said.

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