UH vows to create
rape-free campuses

A group applauds university
officials but questions whether
enough is being done

University of Hawaii interim President David McClain is pledging to increase security systemwide over the next two years to make the institution's 10 campuses "rape-free zones."

The plan came after months of talks with the Rape Free Zone Coalition, which organized a series of rallies and protests in April after three unrelated rapes near the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus.

Kathryn Xian, spokeswoman for the Rape Free Coalition, said the university's pledge is well received. But, she added, there are still concerns over whether the university is doing enough and doubts that UH officials are committed to the cause in the long term.

"This is a step in the right direction," Xian said. "What we're always afraid of is that a lot of lip service is dispensed, but not enough action is taken."

McClain is expected Monday to announce details on the security measures at a news conference. Officials said yesterday that the plan would be funded through a special allocation, whose amount has not been disclosed, and administered by campus chancellors.

However, University of Hawaii spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka said it is "our intent" to commit to the new security measures for years to come.

Three rapes happened in March near the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus. On March 12 an 85-year-old woman was raped in her Old Waialae Road apartment.

A week later a 38-year-old woman's car was hijacked, and she was raped near the Manoa Innovation Center on Woodlawn Drive.

And on March 28 a Kapiolani Community College student was abducted near University Avenue and gang-raped. The 18-year-old was then dropped off at a dormitory on the UH-Manoa campus.

Last year, three rapes were reported on the UH-Manoa campus, down from seven in 2003, according to university statistics. But a survey released in April suggests that many sexual assaults and rapes of UH undergraduate women go unreported.

The survey, taken in fall 2003 and based on 435 female respondents, showed nearly 2 percent of respondents said they had been raped, and about 10 percent had experienced a sexual assault. But only about 5 percent of the incidents were reported to police or campus security.

Xian also said yesterday that she had hoped to get a "declaration" -- rather than an "affirmation," which McClain is giving -- of rape-free zones at UH campuses. UH lawyers told Xian that "declaring" UH a rape-free zone could be a liability.

"We're incredibly disappointed with that language," Xian said, adding that the UH has already declared itself a "drug-free zone."

"It's a letdown, basically, but we're willing to overlook it because we want to grow this relationship."

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