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Bill Encourages WI Students to Report Sexual Assaults, by Giving Immunity for Underage Drinking

Brian Josefowicz, flickr

Bill supporters say some college students don't report being sexually assaulted because they were drinking and under age 21. So, under the so-called Sexual Assault Amnesty proposal, police would disregard the underage drinking violation. A 21-year-old UWM senior says the bill might have made a difference to her two years ago, when she was raped at a house party near campus. She says she was having a rough semester and was drinking more than usual that night.

“You know when you’re really drunk and it’s like you’re encased in a jar of honey, where your limbs feel like they’re moving really slowly and you think you’re talking but you’re not talking? It was kind of like that. He had just been holding my hair back while I was puking in the bathroom for like maybe half an hour. And then he took me to one of the rooms and put me in bed and I thought that he was just going to tuck me in, but that’s not what happened.

“I woke up a few hours later. It was still dark outside. I had a blanket on bottom, pants less in this strangers house, still drunk and with no one there or anything. So I wrapped the blanket around me like a towel or something. I left the house and went to my car, which was parked a few blocks away. I sat in my car and I kind of thought of what to do.

“I thought about calling the police. Because I knew that I had just been victimized and that what had just occurred was a crime. [But] I felt like it just wasn’t an option because I was still drunk and I didn’t want to lose my scholarship because of an underage drinking ticket.

"You know that in the interview there’s going to be a point where he’s like, 'How much did you have to drink that night? Oh when you’re 19, interesting.' You know that question is coming. I wish that that that question wouldn’t be a part of the interview, like: “What happened to you? Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry. What can I do to help,” the 21-year-old woman said.

According to the American Association of American Universities, at least half of sexual assaults of college students involving drinking, and more than 90 percent of victims don't report the crime, based on statistics from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

"I do think that if there was something like this bill that would have guaranteed that I wouldn’t be penalized for underage drinking. I very well might have called the police- the campus police. I might have…I definitely might have,” the 21-year-old added.

Nicole Beilke is a journalism major at UWM. She is also studying for a certificate in Digital Arts and Culture. Nicole has reported on topics such as art and activism in Milwaukee, including these pieces for Media Milwaukee: UW-Milwaukee Students Join Tony Robinson Protests and The UW-Milwaukee Grad Behind the Collectivo Coffee Skull.