Obama launches campaign to curb sexual assaults on college campuses
President wants to change stigma surrounding problem
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — In an effort to prevent sexual violence on local college campuses, as well as those around the nation, the Obama administration is once again joining in the fight.
For many years now, the Obama Administration has been trying to combat sexual violence on college campuses across the nation, but his latest effort is a campaign, which he hopes will completely change the stigma surrounding the problem.
Over the past several years awareness programs have made a difference.
“The rates of domestic violence in the United States have fallen 64 percent in the last 20 years,” said Joe Biden, Vice President of the United States.
But it seems one area remains the same.
“We learned that one place hasn’t changed much, women the age 16 to 24 were being abused. One out of ten of them were being physically assaulted. Ten years ago, 20 years ago and the numbers still the same,” said Biden.
“An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during their college years, one in five,” said President Barack Obama.
In an effort to change those numbers, Obama has created the “It’s On Us” Campaign.
“The idea is to fundamentally shift the way we think about sexual assault,” said Obama.
“How do we stop people from thinking assaults are okay in the first place. Why do we have to think about wearing nail polish that would tell us if your drink has been drugged?” said Ingrid Peterson, a violence prevention specialist at UW- La Crosse.
One of the main messages of the campaign is to be an active bystander.
“It’s all of us taking responsibility, all of us have a role to play,” said Obama.
To encourage intervention at UW-La Crosse, they have a ‘responsible action policy’ on campus giving certain immunity to students, including those who have been drinking.
“The idea is to get people calling in those situations to report crimes like sexual assault and not be afraid that the drinking is going to be prioritized because it’s not,” said Peterson.
It may not be an end all solution, but many say it’s a step in the right direction.
“It won’t be enough unless we change the culture that allows assault to happen in the first place and I am confident we can,” said Obama.
Peterson said she has been unusually busy since the start of the school year, but she said it’s not because there are more assaults happening on campus than in previous years It means all the efforts around the nation are having an impact and encouraging victims, friends, family members to step forward and get help.