Colleges Double Down on Sexual Assault Fight

By Martines, Jamie | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 4, 2017 | Go to article overview

Colleges Double Down on Sexual Assault Fight


Martines, Jamie, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Elected officials, law enforcement, victim advocates and university representatives from campuses in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties gathered at the University of Pittsburgh on Monday to reaffirm their commitment to ending sexual assault on college campuses.

The event centered on the release of a video series compiled by Southwest PA Says No More, a coalition of organizations throughout the region focused on ending domestic and sexual violence, in which presidents of 13 colleges and universities in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties explain what their schools are doing to address campus sexual assault.

Efforts included extra training for faculty and staff, as well cooperation with campus and local law enforcement, to ensure that victims of sexual violence feel safe coming forward. Campus leadership and student representatives emphasized the need to start educating students about how to prevent sexual assault before they arrive on campus.

“We’re from Westmoreland County, and this is not just a problem on urban campuses,” said Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas. “We’re home to five colleges and universities in Westmoreland County. It’s a rural problem as well.”

One in five female undergraduate students and one in 14 male undergraduate students nationwide have reported experiencing sexual assault, according to U.S. Department of Justice data.

There are 360 active sexual violence investigations at 255 colleges, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Title IX tracker, which monitors active cases at schools across the country.

There are 20 active investigations at 15 colleges and universities across Pennsylvania.

“It’s not enough to simply deal with the issue once it’s happened; we have to change the culture, whether they come to us, and they’ve experienced it before they get here, or whether they experience it on campus,” said Seton Hill University President Mary Finger, adding that Seton Hill is working with the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg campus to increase education and conversations around sexual assault. …

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