Reducing Sexual Assaults on College Campuses

Published 05/06 2014 08:35PM

Updated 05/06 2014 11:33PM

BURLINGTON, Vt. - Some of the biggest colleges and universities in our region say they will do more to prevent sexual assaults.

President Obama has called on schools across the country to step up their efforts to protect students.

The White House says one in five college women is sexually assaulted on campus and the concern is many of those go unreported and unpunished.

"The University of Vermont felt very good about the recommendations from the White House," says Annie Stevens, UVM Student Affairs vice provost.

Stevens worked with the president's task force.

The White House recommendations included more prevention, support for survivors, and figuring out the extent of the problem with campus surveys.

"One of the best recommendations we've seen and may really want to look at our own surveys and get something specific particurarly to sexual misconduct and assault," says Stevens.

At UVM, the number of anonymously reported sexual assaults has gone from two in fiscal year 2008 to 13 so far in fiscal year 2014.

"I think those numbers reflect our efforts in trying to help students, staff, and faculty understand where they can go to report and where they can go to get support," says Stevens.

At Dartmouth College, there's been an increase in sexual assault reports from seven in 2011 to 21 in 2013.

The school, which is under federal investigation for its handling of sexual violence, says it's pleased the White House is making the issue a priority.

In a statement, it says "For over a year, the college has been implementing programs and processes like those recommended by the White House report."

At UVM, Stevens says the school is already doing what the White House suggests. But she says UVM can do more and will launch a new bystander program this fall.

"It's really getting students to be more active in their own community and taking care of each other and watching out for each other," says Stevens.

UVM says at most colleges sexual violence is an under-reported crime. But it expects the number of reports to go up as more survivors feel comfortable coming forward.

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