Regent universities to hold sexual assault conference

BY MEGAN DEPPE | MARCH 05, 2014 5:00 AM

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Student leaders from the three regent institutions will meet to work on assault prevention. Members from the University of Iowa’s Student Government and Executive Council for Graduate and Professional Students will be part of a telephonic conference with executives from Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.

Student leaders will discuss strategies that campuses are using to try to prevent sexual assault, as well as support for survivors and communication with law enforcement. Data were released in the regents’ packet about an increased number of reported sexual assaults on the Iowa State campus and the University of Northern Iowa campus.

In reaction to the recent controversial incidents on the UI campus, Regent Hannah Walsh organized a conference for the three universities. At Iowa State, there were 13 reported sexual assaults in 2013, an increase from 2012’s nine reported assaults. At the University of Northern Iowa, there were two reported cases of sexual assault in 2013, up from the one reported case in 2012.

“As it’s been clear in the past week, this is a problem that affects all campuses,” said Executive Council President Ben Gillig. “The government here has garnered some ‘trial by fire’ experience, and we’re excited to share that.” Gillig will attend the meeting with Vice President Matt Enriquez and UISG President Katherine Valde and Vice President Jack Cumming. The two UI groups will meet with executives from the student bodies at ISU and UNI.

Spencer Hughes, the president of the ISU Student Body, said that sexual assault is a problem that must be confronted by all colleges. “Every student deserves to feel safe in their community, day or night, and strong support systems need to exist for those affected by these crimes,” Hughes said.

The student officials will discuss how to address awareness, prevention, and response to sexual assault reports with a framework based on works with campus offices. Topics will include bystander training in the universities, training for staff and faculty members, designated points of contact for victims, and clear communications with law-enforcement officials.

“Sexual misconduct has been such an incredibly underreported crime,” Gillig said, noting that the conference would work on being proactive on the issue. “This is not a new issue, but it’s definitely something we need to act on quickly.”

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