Sexual Assault and Our Local Colleges

One in five women will experience some form of sexual assault during her time at college.

That staggering statistic inspired Brooke Mascagni, a college professor at a small school in Texas to explore what’s being done to fight the problem not just at an Ivy League level but at college’s nation wide.

“The overall goal is to shed a light on the diverse experiences on college campuses in the United States, not just those attending elite institutions because we need to learn more about the students experiences in order to foster beneficial policies and education and prevention programs,” said Mascagni.

Through a grant provided by AAUW, she’s been able to research sexual assault and rape culture on different campuses. And recently shared her findings with the local chapter, encouraging them to get involved in legislation, like the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, a bipartisan bill that increases protection for students who have been victims of sexual assault as well as educational programs for their peers.

Local schools, like North Central College, are also taking a stand.

“One of the best ways we can fight further sexual assault is by being active bystanders, we are a Green Dot Campus, and often do a lot of training though out the year on how students can prevent violence by recognizing red flags and high risk situations. Then stepping in and doing something in a way that feels natural. Genuinely being comfortable enough to say something or get someone involved if you need to,” said North Central’s Violence Education and Prevention Coordinator, Cindy Washburn.

The school has had 10 reported incident’s regarding sexual assault in the last three years.

Faculty and staff hope to get that number to zero by ensuring their students are informed and know how to prevent violence.

The same goes for Benedictine University, which has reported two cases of sexual misconduct in the last five years. With similar programs in place and self-defense courses offered, faculty and staff’s top priority is keeping students safe.

“They do have someone to go to. They can do go anyone on campus, they don’t have to keep it to themselves. Like our athletes, a lot of them will go to their coach because that’s who they are comfortable with. When they feel comfortable they will start talking and so we are trying to get that message out,” said Michi Dubes, Emergency Preparedness Manager and Safety Specialist at Benedictine University.

Naperville News 17’s Natalie Vitale Reports.

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