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Campus Rape Addressed by White House Task Force, Local Colleges

Updated: 04/30/2014 9:56 PM
Created: 04/30/2014 5:53 PM KSTP.com
By: Brandi Powell

The White House is taking a stand against sex assault on college campuses, and they are looking to force changes.

An Obama Administration panel has been studying the problem since January. On Tuesday, the panel came out with specific recommendations. The task force also promised greater transparency. A new website, notalone.gov, will post enforcement actions and offers information to victims about how to seek local help and information about filing a complaint.

The University of St. Thomas is already doing some of thos things, including a bystander intervention system called the Green Dot Program.

It teaches students to use a distraction.

St. Thomas Freshman Elena Nuezil said, "I'm in favor of - 'oh, gosh, we should take a picture together.' Or, saying to the aggressor, 'dude, somebody just towed your car', and of course the guy ran out of the house to find his car," said Rachel Harris, Interim Associate Dean of Students at University of St. Thomas. These are examples of calling using distraction, a second technique.

Another approach St. Thomas is teaching some of its students via the Green Dot Program is delegation. St. Thomas Freshman Jennifer Loomis says this approach feels most comfortable to her. "That would be the first thing I would do, just call the police, because I think that it is a little daunting as a female to approach that alone."

The University of St. Thomas doesn't want anyone in it alone. Through Green Dot, they're focusing on training everyone. Harris said.

"It focuses on solutions and ways that engage men, that sometimes in traditional sexual violence training, men have stepped away from the conversation or stepped away from the solution," Harris said.

If colleges and universities aren't already doing so, they will be asked to conduct campus surveys, engage men in prevention programs, respond to sexual assault incidents and, increase transparency.

The University of Minnesota will start work engaging men in sexual assault prevention and awareness programs this fall.

Stats show there were 22 reported sexual assaults involving University of Minnesota students in 2012. 13 of those were on campus.

Among the directives:
    
-A victim's sexual history cannot be brought up in a judicial hearing unless it involves the alleged perpetrator and that those working in on-campus sexual assault centers can generally talk to a survivor in confidence.
    
-A school is required to process complaints of alleged sexual violence that happened off campus to determine whether it occurred in the context of an education-related activity.
    
-In a K-12 setting, when a school learns that a teacher or other employee has sexually harassed a student, it is responsible for taking "prompt and effective" steps.
    
-Straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students are all protected and a school must resolve "same sex" violence in the same way it does for all such complaints.
    
In its report, the task force said the Justice Department will help develop training programs in trauma care for college officers and assess different models for schools to use to adjudicate such cases, since some sexual assault survivors are wary of a legal process that can expose them to potentially painful or embarrassing questions by students or staff.
    
While 1 in 5 female students is assaulted, the White House said the review was also about protecting male victims and engaging men in discussions about preventing such assaults. Research has shown that most campus sexual assault victims know their attackers, alcohol or drugs are often involved and only 12 percent of college women attacked report it to police.
    
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 


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