Students at University of Colorado Colorado Springs, UCCS, marched Wednesday night to raise awareness about sexual assaults on college campuses.
A new statistic released by a White House task force aimed at protecting students from sexual violence said one in five women are sexually assaulted in college. The sexual assault response coordinator at Colorado College said it's the most underreported crime in our society and it's also the most prevalent crime on college campuses.
Wednesday marked the last day of sexual assault awareness month as 70 students filled the UCCS room to listen to testimony from a victim and a therapist who helps victims.
For one student, the message was very personal.
"I've personally been affected by sexual assault," said student Ashley Bailey.
Bailey said she blamed herself for a long time.
"It was difficult because I was really young so I didn't know as much as I know now and I didn't know it wasn't my fault," said Bailey.
Erica Laue spoke at the event. She is a therapist with TESSA, an organization that helps victims of domestic and sexual violence.
"Whether it's someone who is saying I think it's someone's fault when they get drunk, and pass out, there is no one to blame but yourself. We really need to call attention to that. That is not an acceptable attitude," said Laue.
Another speaker at the event shared her story. She was sexually assaulted twice. She asked to stay anonymous. Her story of strength and hope resonated with Bailey.
"It really empowered me to feel the same way," said Bailey.
A new task force created by President Barack Obama wants to end sexual assaults on college campuses.
The task force focuses on four major points.
The first is climate surveys. The task force will provide colleges with the tools to create surveys it can use on campus to see how prevalent sexual misconduct is among students.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed prevention strategies for reducing sexual violence. It will release those findings. It will also encourage bystander intervention through new programs.
The task force is also outlining how universities should respond when victims come forward. Universities are encouraged to have support staff and resources for victims. The task force will also provide a sample confidentiality and reporting policy. It will give schools guidance on how to improve their investigative protocols.
The task force said the government will also be more transparent. It's created a website that highlights any university under investigation for its handling of a sexual assault case. This will benefit other universities because they will be able to learn from other's mistakes. The Department of Education has been ordered to provide more clarity on schools' legal obligations. The Departments of Justice and Education have entered an agreement to clarify each agency's role.
Some of the recommendations outlined by the task force will become mandatory.