Trinity students' new company combats rape on college campuses

Co-founders say student-run program will better awaken peers

Three Trinity University students are using a new organization to tackle a tough issue: sexual assault on college campuses.

"One in five women and one in 13 men will be raped and sexually assaulted during their undergraduate career."

"When I started at Trinity, a friend confided in me about her sexual assault. We haven't even finished our first year yet."

"This incident, like many others, has gone unreported."

Senior Bria Woods, freshman Elizabeth Metzger, and freshman Ariana Arzavi are seen sharing the above facts in a video that's at the center of the website for the new organization they co-founded called The Refourmers.

The goal is to start a conversation about rape and sexual assault on college campuses, bringing down the number of crimes and bringing up the number of incidents reported.

"Develop a safe place where victims and even bystanders could share their experiences about rape on campus," Arzavi said. "The only way to get rid of victim blaming and shaming is educating people."

They all know people who have become victims of sexual assault and said a lot of students can't really define the words assault, consent, and rape. That's why their first and primary focus is education.

"Do you even know if you were assaulted because there are times when people have been put in awful situations and they weren't sure. Was I sexually assaulted? And that's terrifying. And we want to first define it so you can identify it," Metzger said.

The Refourmers were finalists in a entrepreneur competition last month and won $5,000. Then, mentor Matthew Egan with Image Freedom invested another $4,000 for their website.

The co-founders don't have an official nonprofit yet. They're in the process of applying to become a 501(c)(​3).

In the meantime, they have plenty of ideas.

"The first place we want to reach them is on social media, but we do want to partner with universities and help them create programs on their campus(es) that are student-run. Because even Trinity has a faculty-run program, but again it's that peer-to-peer contact that I think is really going to make a huge difference," Woods said.

She does not believe many colleges are doing enough to put a stop to the issue that has recently gained national attention.

"A lot of universities are not being held accountable for the cases that they're sweeping under the rug, so it takes away the appeal for victims to want to come forward. A lot of offenders, they have no reason why they shouldn't do it again because there are no consequences," Woods said.

The three young women hope to apply pressure to the system, not just institutions, but also students who have the power to change the culture they live in.

The Refourmers are forming an advisory board of experts including psychologists, lawyers, and university faculty. That advisory board will help them compile data, ideas, and ways to create change not only at their university, but others across the nation.

To find more information on The Refourmers, head to their website or find them on Facebook and Instagram.

For specific numbers of rapes and sexual assaults on college campuses, click or tap here.