Another View: Universities need to change how they deal with sexual assaults

It is widely reported that at least one in five women attending college will be a victim of a sexual assault while enrolled in school.

It is a shocking and disgusting statistic.

And most disgusting is the fact that the majority of the assaults will be perpetrated by classmates, dates or acquaintances of the victim.

While the issue has received substantial attention in recent years, both by the media and universities implementing various programs to attempt to deal with the epidemic, that attention doesn’t appear to have resulted in a decrease in sexual assaults on college campuses.

Recently released results from a study conducted in Canada, however, show that a new program that teaches college women ways to stop sexual assaults could cut rapes on college campuses in half.

The study compared the outcomes of women attending four three-hour courses to the typical university approach of providing brochures. Researchers found that 5 percent of freshman women who went through the courses said they had been raped during the following year, compared to 10 percent of those who were given brochures. Attempted rapes also were lower among the women participating in the courses, with about 3 percent in that group reporting such instances compared to 9 percent who received only brochures.

Some experts fear the program, which focuses on a potential victim deterring her attacker, might contribute to the blaming of the victim. We believe perpetrators should be held accountable, but women should be given all the tools and information they need to fight back.

At Washington State University, mandatory programs are held within the Greek system. Presentations are made in the residence halls and during New Student Orientation sessions, and each fall the Women’s Resource Center offers a Sexual Assault Prevention Course.

At the University of Idaho, the Violence Prevention Program in the Dean of Students Office speaks to living groups, classrooms and at events, and the Violence Prevention office offers presentations for students, staff and faculty that explore issues of intimate violence.

As mandated by the 2013 Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, all colleges and universities are being required to detail to the U.S. Department of Education by July 1 how they will deal with sexual assault. We hope that the UI and WSU, neither of which are immune to this epidemic, strongly consider the results of this study and don’t continue with the same failing methods.