New DSUSA initiative driven by nationwide goals

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The student body president of Dixie State University is busy at work on several projects, the primary of which is the development of an initiative on sexual assault on campus.

This initiative is based on a state and nation-wide fight against sexual assault, as outlined in the first report release in April by the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault titled “Not Alone.” Student governments at Utah universities and secondary education institutions are getting involved and establishing awareness on their respective campuses.

In the effort to increase awareness, schools across the country are working together to contribute to the cause of sexual assault prevention. Gregory J. Layton, a senior English major from Cottonwood Heights and student body president, said the Dixie State University Student Association will be coming up with a campaign to raise awareness on campus as early as November.

“During the summer [the Utah Student Association] had a conference call with some of the reps from the White House,” Layton said. “We talked a lot about how things were going in other parts of the nation and how this has been an effective tool to help increase the safety of students during their time at a university.”

The purpose of the task force is to take action and raise awareness to let university students understand that it is OK to reach out for help.

“It has come to the attention of all institutions of higher education that we need to more directly address the issue and work to provide adequate resources for those who are victims of sexual assault in any form,” Dean of Students Del Beatty said.

Another main purpose of creating awareness is to prevent. In a section of the report called “Why We Need to Act,” it states the task force is “also here to help schools live up to their obligation to protect students from sexual violence.”

According to the report, “One in five women is sexually assaulted in college. Most often, it’s by someone she knows – and also most often, she does not report what happened. Many survivors are left feeling isolated, ashamed or to blame. Although it happens less often, men, too, are victims of these crimes.”

In a report by the U.S. Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight from July called “Sexual Violence on Campus,” it is stated that “less than 5 percent of rape victims attending college report the attack to law enforcement.”

“I went through our records, and in 2012 was the most recent [case],” Layton said. “The number was two that year for DSU.”

Beatty said that many feel as though college campuses have a “reporting” problem.

“We might never know exact numbers of sexual assault cases on campuses in Utah,” Beatty said. “The truth is that we not only have a ‘reporting’ problem, but we have a ‘sexual assault’ problem on Utah campuses, and we need to implement the proper protocol to address allegations of sexual assault. We will work to educate our students about what resources are available to them, and encourage our students to ‘say something’ if they ‘see something’, or if they become a victim of any type of sexual assault.”

College student governments are dedicating themselves to the growth of the goals of the Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, Layton said.  

“We feel like it is something that needs to be taken care of and that our efforts need to be improved on,” he said. “Not just as a university but as a community as a whole … We are going to do things that increase awareness. Then we are going to partner with the community, especially with housing.”

Most of DSU student housing is off campus, therefore Layton has plans to meet with the owners and operators of housing units to generate a bigger community outreach concerning the issue.

“We need to make sure that the resources are there for students, that the policies are in place and if a student has been involved with [sexual assault] that they know how to get help at the university,” Layton said. “Dixie’s values are targeted toward the health and safety of students … We need to continually create a culture of prevention.”

More information about the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault can be found at NotAlone.gov.