U of M has a new plan to educate students, staff to prevent sexual assaults

President Kaler says there's "much more we can do and need to do" to prevent sexual assaults.
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The University of Minnesota has a new plan to prevent sexual assaults on campus.

These new efforts, which President Eric Kaler announced during his state of the university address Thursday night, include more education, training and advocacy for both students and faculty.

"Recently, our Twin Cities campus — like too many across the nation — has been at the center of sexual assault news and conversation because of the reported behavior of some of our students and faculty," Kaler said during his address. Some of the most recent alleged incidents of sexual assaults on campus involved several Gophers football players and fraternities on campus.

Kaler said the university has a "strong and comprehensive approach to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct" but notes there is "much more we can do and need to do," which is why the U will "immediately" implement recommendations from a working group.

The recommendations include:

  • Mandatory training for faculty and staff.
  • Enhanced training and additional education for students after their first year.
  • An ongoing public health and awareness campaign.
  • Creating a President's Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault, which will regularly report to Kaler.
  • Develop metrics to measure the U's sexual assault and misconduct prevention, education, advocacy and awareness efforts on campus. This will include conducting a campus climate survey every three years.

"We all know that even with these kinds of actions we will not eliminate sexual misconduct on campus," Kaler said. "Unfortunately, attitudes and behaviors that underlie violence against women are deeply engrained in our culture."

Sexual assaults at the U

In 2015, 23.5 percent of female undergrads who responded to the Campus Climate Survey of Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct reported sexual assault since they enrolled at the university.

Meanwhile, 47.9 percent of all who responded to the survey said they'd experienced sexual harassment; 10 percent reported intimate partner violence; and 4.5 percent experienced stalking since they enrolled.

And sexual assaults aren't just at the U of M. A report released in December by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education found there were 294 incidents reported to universities and colleges in Minnesota in 2015.

Of those, only 164 were investigated to see if the institution’s policy was violated in any way. And 79 cases ended with the institution issuing disciplinary action greater than a warning.

The vast majority of those who reported assaults to institutions did not contact state or local law enforcement though. Only 55 did (as far as the colleges are aware).

Most assaults aren’t reported

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, as many as one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college.

However, more than 90 percent of assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.

Information by RAINN – which has a bunch of information on sexual assault – says people often don’t report assaults for a number of reasons. Some of those include victims believing it’s their own problem to deal with, being afraid of reprisal, or not wanting the offender to get in trouble.

If you’d like to get help or talk to someone about an assault, the National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-4673.

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