UISG fighting sexual abuse


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Just over a year ago, a woman said she was raped on the Pentacrest. The reported assault didn't occur in a dark alleyway or behind the closed doors of an apartment or dorm room as we often imagine. It apparently happened in the open and in front of at least one witness. The witness later reported the alleged rape to a police officer, and, thanks in part to the information he provided, the alleged rapist was apprehended six months later.

I wish the witness had been able to prevent the alleged rape, but I am glad that he decided to do something about what had happened. The person charged may never have been caught if he hadn't.

In a story published in August, The Daily Iowan reported that three alleged sexual assaults or attempted sexual assaults have occurred on campus since that incident. Two of them were in residence halls and the other at the Finkbine Golf Course following a football game. These types of assaults can happen anywhere and can happen to anyone. National statistics approximate that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.

This is why education and other preventative measures are so important and why the University of Iowa Student Government has made student safety such a large part of its agenda. For example, UISG has worked with cab companies in the hopes of providing safe transportation for students 24 hours a day, in addition to the services offered by Nite Ride.

UISG will also host the first-ever UI Safety Awareness Fair on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the IMU second-floor ballroom. University offices and departments as well as student and community groups will offer information and resources about safety of all kinds, especially bystander intervention.

The Red Watch Band program will hold two alcohol bystander intervention and CPR training sessions during the fair, and groups such as the Rape Victim Advocacy Program, the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, and the Women's Resource and Action Center will be there with information on how to prevent and avoid sexual assault. These groups work with both men and women in their safety-education efforts.

There will also be groups available to discuss other issues, including fire safety and motorcycle and moped safety. MidWestOne Bank will be there to tell students how to keep themselves and their money safe from fraud.

The fair will conclude with a room-burning in Hubbard Park. Two side-by-side rooms will be constructed, one with fire sprinklers and the other without, and then set aflame to show the importance of fire safety and protection. It will also demonstrate how the Fire Department responds to and extinguishes fires.

UISG will send out an email to all undergraduate students announcing the event. Please refer to the email for more information about participating groups and how you can win an iPad or Hawkeye gear from the University Bookstore at the fair for attending.

It's up to all of us to help make our campus a safer place.

Jon Swearingen is a University of Iowa student and the UISG safety advocate.

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