Since a false report of sexual assault at the University of Virginia caused controversy, college campuses around the country have started reaching out to students about the issue of sexual assault. The priority of the colleges is to keep the integrity and safety of students intact while separating the true reports from the false.
There are still discrepancies in universities’ definitions of sexual assault. Colorado State University President Tony Frank recently appeared on PBS’s “Colorado State of Mind” program, and was part of a panel discussing future prevention of sexual assault on college campuses. The panel also included Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, the superintendent of the Air Force Academy; Mitch Morrissey, Denver’s district attorney and Cynthia Coffman, Colorado’s attorney general.
The panel discussed the number of reported sexual assaults on campuses versus the actual total number of assaults, since many go unreported to authorities.
“We can’t get hung up on the numbers, but would we feel any better if the numbers were half of what they are?” Frank asked. “The numbers are too high. Period.”
Frank discussed how CSU is encouraging survivors to come forward and show that there should be no fear in telling someone.
“There’s so many balancing acts around this whole process,” said Frank. “The balancing act we’re after is to protect the privacy of the victim at the same time you’re assuring there’s no risk to potential future victims.”
CSU has advanced its programs to reach out to those in need of help. The Women and Gender Advocacy Center on campus at CSU has continued to provide help with survivors. Their goal is to “provide a safe and affirming space for the students we serve at Colorado State University, while supporting systematic change to end all forms of oppression within our community,” as stated on their website.
Frank brought up the WGAC movements “Yes Means Yes” and “Consent Turns Me On” as examples of programs that work to decrease sexual assault at CSU.
CSU’s police department also offers safety walks, which can help get students safely across campus and to the surrounding blocks at night.
With the safe environment being created at CSU, Tony Frank predicts numbers that more assault survivors will come forward.
With a daughter currently at CSU and two more who have graduated from there, Tony Frank is adamant that “safety has to be a critical issue at our universities.”
Collegian Reporter Dallas Head can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @head94head.