DHI Media Staff Writer

As students head back to school, college students will notice an increased focus on preventing and raising awareness of campus sexual assault with the recent implementation of new laws.

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which included the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act, went into effect on July 1 requiring colleges and universities to increase and broaden their sexual assault education and reporting of it.

The Campus SaVE Act requires colleges and universities to implement a number of new policies that were not previously in the Clery Act, a law from 1990 which deals with colleges reporting crime statistics. The Campus SaVE Act adds requirements such as all new students and employees must be offered primary prevention and awareness programs covering topics of rape, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

Many nearby colleges and universities began the awareness and training programs last year knowing that the Campus SaVE Act would go into effect this school year. As the semester has begun, the education on campus sexual assault has been even stronger.

“Research has shown that students are more at risk at the beginning of the school year,” Christine Marcuccilli, Title XI coordinator for IPFW, said.

“You have students who are away from home for the first time, so it’s a new environment so they might be testing some boundaries and unfortunately, anyone with a predatory behavior could take advantage of that,” Marcuccilli added. “What universities need to do is be aware of that and ask the questions, ‘How are we putting our students first? How are we making our students aware of that?’”

Nearby colleges and universities have taken into consideration this greater risk of campus sexual assault at the beginning of the year by providing education on the topic within the first few weeks of school.

Bluffton University and IPFW are doing this by requiring new students to complete online training modules in the fall which covers sexual assault awareness, prevention, response, and bystander intervention.

“Our approach is information is power, so we try to educate students on what they can do for their own personal safety and then we train our staff and faculty on how to keep people safe on campus,” Bluffton University’s Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students Julie DeGraw said.

In addition to the online training, programs are being offered for students to attend throughout the year to keep the topic in the forefront of students’ minds. For example, IPFW has a workshop lined up at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, called Escalation which was created by the One Love Foundation after Yeardley Love from the University of Virginia was killed as a result of a domestic violence situation in 2010.

“This is a really innovative workshop that’s going to go through a meaningful discussion about relationship violence warning about abusive relationships,” Marcuccilli said. “It’s really targeted towards students and being an active bystander and promoting safety that way.”

Rhodes State offers various presentations for students and faculty on campus sexual assault as well as providing brochures and information during incoming students’ welcome days at the beginning of the school year.

“The incoming students have gotten the information,” Director of Safety and Security at Rhodes State Mark Mathews said. “On October 1, when everything is due [for the annual security report required by the Clery Act], I’ll send out a massive email to students, faculty, and staff that our 2014 campus statistics are up and our annual security report is up.”

Rhodes State also started a self defensive class for women last year that it will continue this year.

“Sometimes you have to ask those questions, ‘If something does happen on campus what can I do and what should we do,’” Mathews said. “I think those kind of things are needed.”

IPFW, Rhodes States, and Bluffton University also focus on training the faculty and staff as well.

“If a student goes and talks to any employee at the university, they should know what to tell them and how to support them,” DeGraw said. “We want to make sure that if it does happen that our students are getting the support they need.”

Chief of Police for the IPFW campus Julie Yunker gave three tips for college students:

1. Be alert. With student busy on their devices on campus, they forget to look up and look around to see what is going on.

2. Trust your instinct. If students see something that seems weird or odd, it may be.

3. Report it. Even if a student is unsure if a crime is being committed, the police want to know so they can determine if it is.

Mathews also reiterated the importance of reporting.

“The biggest thing is the process,” Mathews said. “You have to let people know what the process is about reporting sexual assaults and sexual harassment.”

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. More than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report it.