Educating College Students About Sexual Assault on Campus

By: Jacqueline Vargas

 Background on Sexual Assault

 According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center:

  • 1 out of 5 Women and 1 out of 16 men while in college are sexually assaulted
  • 90% or more victims on campus do not report the assault
  • Sexual assault statistics on campuses continue to rise

Students going off to college and being away from parents for the first time is possibly the most exciting time in your life. Four years to gain knowledge, meet new people and prepare yourself for the real world. Unfortunately, that is not the case for everyone. Sexual assault has become a problem throughout many colleges in the United States. Most victims are women and many do not report the incident because they may get blamed for it.This should not be part of anyone’s four-year experience in college. If students are made aware of the issue and stand up against it the chances of it happening could be lower.

On September 12, 2014, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden launched the campaign “It’s On Us” to put an end to sexual assault.

How will “It’s on Us” end sexual assault?

This campaign is to educate students about what consent is and encourages victims of sexual assault to seek help. President Obama helps schools by offering more enforcement, guidance and informing administrators at schools of the problem that is not acceptable. However, this can only do so much. He wants everyone to step up, this is where students become a big help and need to be involved. When students take the pledge they are not going to be bystanders and will intervene if they see some type of sexual assault occur.

It first starts with parents. Obama says, “It’s not just on the parents of young women to caution them. It is on the parents of young men to teach them respect for women.” If parents start early and teach their children morals, they are less likely to disrespect a woman. He focuses more on women being assaulted and how women should have the same rights but women should also stand up when a man is in the same position. Just because a woman is dressed a certain way or is intoxicated it is not her fault for anything that is without consent. He concludes his speech “Commit to being part of the solution.  Help make sure our schools are safe havens where everybody, men, and women, can pursue their dreams and fulfill their potential.”

 What is the University of Utah doing to solve this issue?

On October 31, 2016, an incident occurred on campus it was a wake-up call for everyone that goes to the U. Therefore, administrators decided to have some information sessions for students to know where they can go if anything were to happen to them throughout their time at the university. Lieutenant Rick Mclenon is part of the police department for campus and is in charge of the investigation unit. They are available to students 24 hours a day and there are 38 police officers and 70 security officers working for the department. He says that more escorts have been hired ever since the incident. Now the wait time is less to have an escort take you to your car. Students should also know “If you want to go to the downtown area depending on the reasoning and where you want to go we escort you there, but it’s supposed to be just campus but we do extend in certain circumstance,” says Mclenon.

He also created a program for women called the RAD program, which is a rape defense program that is offered 3 times year and only accepts 15 students per class. Right now, they are working on it and getting more instructors certified to teach the classes. When it comes to investigations he says they follow the campaign “Star I Believe”. This says whenever a victim comes in you believe the person and do not question them. He says “Evidence will lead us in the end to basically what had occurred during the incident, we also give victims time because when going through something like that our memory recalls things differently.”

What resources are there for victims?

Only 10% of victims report sexual assault it is shocking to see how low the percentage is. Victims should know there is help out there. Universities that are federally funded are mandated to take action and help victims get the help they need. The reason many do not report sexual assault is because victims think they will be blamed either because of their gender or race but Title IX protects these students.

Our campus has amazing resources and people that are here to help any student and give them the best advice to help them achieve success here. Laura Whitesman is part of the counsel center and she wants students that have gone through this know that the reaction is normal but with help you heal over time. “The first thing is to come in for a counseling session and the first one is free after that you pay $12 and you have 12 sessions throughout the year. We have group counseling’s as well and these can help because you are with other people and you know that other people are going through the same thing” She says.

Dara Jones is a confidential counselor that helps students go through the process they decide and help them with resources and will be there through the whole thing. Her office works with the Dean of students, so if any student has academic problems like having to change classes, withdrawing from a class or an entire semester, or extending deadlines she is the person to go to. This is all confidential and a student can petition for tuition reimbursement. They will be the best help for anyone scared to report alone. She says, “We have a pretty effective system set up to make sure that students feel safe coming to the University. Our mission is to ensure that our students are feeling safe and empowered to come and stay at the university and continue to succeed with their education.”

 University Resources

 Campus police:

   1735 East South Campus Drive


For more information or to speak to someone confidently contact:

   Dara Jones & Jodi Petersen: 801-581-777

Student Services Building, Room 330

201 South 1460 East, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84112

Office of Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action:

135 Park Building


To report an incident contact:

  Dean of Students: 801-581-7066

Union Building Room 270

For By-Stander training check the website for upcoming classes:

 It’s On Us Campaign

 To take the pledge against sexual assault visit: