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Reported sex assaults at Minnesota colleges rise 23 percent

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New data show reported sexual assaults at the University of Minnesota increased 31 percent from 2008 to 2012, amid renewed calls nationwide to curb attacks on female students on campus.

The Star Tribune reports that statewide, the number of reported sex assaults at Minnesota colleges rose 23 percent – from 115 in 2008 to 141 in 2012, according to data colleges are required to report under the federal Clery Act.

And officials note that sexual assault is often under-reported. Perhaps only 12 percent of the crimes are actually taken to the police, according to one 2007 study, the newspaper notes.

Two high-profile rapes of U of M students have occurred near the Twin Cities campus this school year, the Star Tribune notes. The U of M Board of Regents plans this week to vote on a $4.1 million plan to tighten campus security, including more lighting and more campus police overtime.

President Barack Obama has been among the national leaders calling for new initiatives aimed at stopping sexual assaults. Obama launched one program just a few days before his State of the Union address last month – the creation of a task force aimed at protecting students on college campuses.

"Sexual assault is an affront to our basic decency and humanity. And it's about all of us – the safety of those we love most: our moms, our wives, our daughters and our sons,” Obama said.

Obama, citing a new White House reports, said nearly one in five women, totaling 22 million, have been raped in their lifetime, and he noted that women on college campuses were at higher risk for sexual assault.

Victims of sexual assault on campuses nationwide have been pushing harder in recent years for more awareness, Huffington Post reported last week.

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