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Sexual assault training debuts

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All first-year students and many student leaders are partaking in a sexual assault awareness program as part of a new initiative against sexual violence on campus.

Chris Daood, assistant director of Marquette’s Counseling Center, said recent and anticipated amendments to Title IX and the Clery Act, which pertains to how sexual assault claims are dealt with on college campuses, are challenging colleges and universities across the country to make changes.

A report prepared for the National Institute of Justice found that about 1 in 5 women are victims of sexual assault while in college. The report also said that about 6.1 percent of males were victims of completed or attempted sexual assault during college.

Although he is not aware of other universities taking efforts as extensive as Marquette’s, Daood said he is sure many schools are exploring ways to increase their educational efforts regarding sexual assault awareness.

According to Marquette’s 2011 Safety Resource Guide, there were three sexual offenses on campus in 2010.

Daood said the media attention Marquette received regarding high profile student athlete sexual assault cases undoubtedly contributed to the change.

“Marquette has chosen to view this as an opportunity to make meaningful and positive change for our entire campus community,” Daood said.

This year’s new students received brief training during their freshman orientation. Next year’s first-year students will be required to complete the online training before they arrive at Marquette in the fall.

Daood said more than 15 student leader groups including resident assistants, athletes, members of Greek Life and the MUSG executive board will go through the more extensive three-part training on sexual violence. This training will be led by almost 40 faculty and administrators who volunteered to be trained to provide almost 70 programs.

The three parts include an online educational program, faculty-led education on sexual assault at Marquette and bystander intervention strategies led by student peer educators.

Daood said the primary objective of all programming efforts is to help students define sexual assault, recognize predatory behavior, intervene as a bystander and be compassionate to peers who have been sexually assaulted.

Corey Lansing, assistant dean for student involvement, said he thinks the program will get people talking about sexual assault and the extent of the problem on college campuses. He said the training was introduced to the Greek presidents last Monday, and each fraternity and sorority will decide if they want to participate.

He also said it would make a statement if every individual in a fraternity or a sorority went though the training because that would mean over 700 students committed to receiving education on sexual violence.

The decision for Greek Life to join the initiative was made because fraternities specifically received media attention regarding the issue and the council leaders wanted to show that Marquette Greek Life is taking action against sexual violence, he said.

Mike Broeker, acting athletic director, said the training was also added to the life skills programming for athletes. He said the sexual assault cases from last year were not addressed at the athletes’ training sessions.

“We do not want to revisit cases,” Broeker said. “We want to do (the training) as a proactive measure and move forward.”

He said he hopes the student athletes can become more personally aware and be leaders on campus by using their high profiles to help raise awareness.

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