White House launches sexual assault campaign

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBN) — Tuesday, the White House launched a campaign called “Not Alone” to fight sexual assaults on college campuses.

Statistics show one in five women will become a victim during her time at college, most in their freshman or sophomore year.

Harvard graduate and sexual assault victim Madeline Smith joined Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday to help launch the new campaign.

“With an issue like sexual assault, the personal and political are inseparable,” Smith said.

A White House task force on Tuesday released its “Not Alone” report. It recommends that universities provide better training for sexual assault victims’ advocates, keep victims’ identities confidential and conduct better investigations. It also asks colleges to conduct surveys to get a better understanding of the frequency of sexual assaults on campus.

The White House task force making the recommendations was appointed by President Barack Obama in January to conduct a 90-day review.

The White House on Tuesday launched the website www.notalone.gov. It lets students look up local resources and support in reporting sexual assaults and even file a complaint against their school if they feel their school is not doing enough to prevent sexual assaults. The hope is that more of those one in five women will speak up and report these crimes.

“But these are not just numbers. These are our friends, these are our daughters, these are our neighbors, these are your classmates,” Vice President Biden said.

Biden said men need to be part of the solution too.

Youngstown State University Police Chief John Beshara said campus police don’t get many reports of sexual assault. But that does not mean the assaults are not happening or that campus police are not prepared to handle those cases.

“We have specially trained staff here at the police department that work in conjunction with the other departments here, counseling, medical services, student discipline. And we put information out to our residents, our students, our faculty and staff,” Beshara said.

He said he applauds the Obama administration for taking steps to shed more light on the problem.

“Some of the problem is, I don’t think people know what to do if they find they have been assaulted or are in that type of situation,” Beshara said.

“I know that YSU tries a lot to have these seminars called ‘consent is sexy’ and so I know if I just went to the student affairs office, they would probably direct me to somebody,” said freshman Georgia Kasamias.

“So far during my two years here, I haven’t really had any communication of any services like that,” said sophomore Andrew Bastion.

But Kasamias said she thinks the “Not Alone” campaign will help.

“The more that people talk about this, if this gets on the news a lot more, then people will feel more comfortable talking about it,” she said.

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