In honor of April as National Sexual Assault Awareness month the American Association of University Women released the guide “10 Ways to Fight Sexual Assault on Campus.”
One in five women will experience sexual assault during her time in college, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, and students have numerous opportunities to help the 20 percent of women who may be affected on their campus.
Recommendations from AAUW include sharing resources and groups that help survivors, discouraging victim blaming and knowing their rights when it comes to Title IX, the federal law prohibiting gender discrimination in education, and – of course – reporting sexual assault within their community.
When a sexual assault is reported at ULV, there is a coalition of responders who react to the situation, said Jim Miyashiro, senior director of University safety operations.
“We provide them with options, we may sometimes be limited based upon what the student is reporting but we provide them with options,” said Monica Leger, employee relations and Title IX manager.
“We let them know they that they can have an adviser, meaning a support person, an advocate or a lawyer, and we inform them of their rights.”
Miyashiro recently created a new memorandum of understanding to verify that everyone involved in the reporting process is informed and trained properly.
“Everyone has what they are going to do and they all work together to make sure that we follow the guidelines,” Miyashiro said.
Only three forcible sexual assaults were reported under between 2012-2014.
“With growing education I think we will get more incidents reported to us,” said Loretta Rahmani, dean of student affairs and deputy Title IX coordinator. “Our (reported) numbers will grow in the future, not because there are more of them, but they are reporting them because of growing education.”
Voices for Hope as well as other clubs and groups, have held events on campus to empower victims, whether or not they have come forward.
“I think we go to a university where we are blessed with a family oriented community, where we know each other well enough that we feel safe and maybe we take that for granted,” Alexis Coria, newly elected Associated Students of the University of La Verne president and founder of Voices of Hope, a club whose mission is to raise awareness of sexual assault.
One reason many victims do not report sexual assault is they are afraid they’ll be told they are responsible for their assaults.
According to AAUW stopping victim blaming is another way to help stop sexual assault on campus.
“A lot of people assume that there is a stereotypical image of the person getting abused,” Coria said. “People will think if you are getting sexually harassed there is a certain way you look or there is a certain (type) who is a victim.”
Instead of putting the blame on the attacker, those who report the abuse often get threatened and told it is their fault, according to the AAUW report.
This mentality keeps other victims from stepping forward for fear that they will be treated unfairly as well.
In order to educate students, many programs have been put together to empower victims, educate possible bystanders and spread awareness of the issue.
Rahmani puts together the Think About It training, an alcohol, drug and sexual assault prevention training, for incoming freshmen each year.
All incoming freshmen are required to take the training or there is a hold placed on their account.
The University also has the Step Up! Bystander Intervention Program, fitting with AAUW’s recommendation to hold a bystander intervention session.
Bystanders can help prevent a sexual assault if they know how to detect and approach the situation appropriately.
When students experience sexual assault, they can report it to the police, an online form on the ULV website or to faculty members, who are mandated reporters, excluding clergy, counseling and health services, Leger said.
The students also have the opportunity to report confidentially.
AAUW also recommends checking to make sure your school complies with the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination, or SaVE act, a new law requiring schools to take additional steps to end sexual violence including providing options and support to students who report and requiring the report of the number of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking incidents that occur on campus every year.
To report a sexual assault or get more information on your rights or resources available, contact Campus Safety at 909-448-4950 or the Student Health Center at 909-448-4950.
Brooke Grasso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.