63ºF

Local colleges look to reduce on-campus sexual assaults

Experts: 1 in every 5 college-age women is sexually assaulted

Local colleges and universities are involved in an effort to reduce sexual assaults on campuses nationwide.
Local colleges and universities are involved in an effort to reduce sexual assaults on campuses nationwide.

Local colleges and universities are involved in an effort to reduce sexual assaults on campuses nationwide.

The White House recently announced a multi-pronged initiative to combat the problem, which experts say directly effects one in every five college-aged women.

It calls for improving prevention through more education, offering more support for victims, and improving awareness about how schools should handle reporting these crimes.

"(The president's) initiative is something that San Antonio has been doing for many years now," said Miriam Elizondo, with the local Rape Crisis Center.

Elizondo said her organization has had a long-standing relationship with local schools, offering services for victims.

In addition, she said, the agency does educational outreach, to college students and beyond.

"It's extremely important to try to work with individuals before they even get to college," she said.

Elizondo said we still live in a "rape culture," where we "unintentionally excuse the behaviors of a perpetrator" and blame the victim.

Dr. Sheryl Tynes, Trinity University's associate vice president of academic affairs, agrees that education is a key component in the solution.

She said some of that should be directed at empowering bystanders to intervene.

"It can be as simple as being at a party and turning on the lights when you see something happening, turning off the music," Tynes said.

In her role of helping students with academic issues, Tynes said she often deals with personal problems too, including sexual assault.

"Estimates are for young women that it's about 20-25 percent in colleges are sexually assaulted. Estimates for men are that 6 percent report," she said.

While the goal may be to focus more on education and empowerment in the future, the Rape, Abuse and Incest national Network (RAINN) offers the following tips for new students to reduce the risks:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.

  • Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, go with your gut.

  • Wait to let your guard down until people earn your trust.

  • If you see something, say something. Intervene if someone else's safety is at risk.

  • Drink responsibly and know your limits.

According to the most recent data available from the U. S. Department of Education, there were four forcible sexual assaults reported at UTSA in 2012.

Trinity University had two cases reported, while Our Lady of the Lake University had one.

To search for information, including crime statistics, on specific public/private schools and colleges, click here.

For a list of recent stories Katrina Webber has done, click here.

Click here to view more videos on KSAT.com.