President’s task force raises awareness of sexual assault on college campuses

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Students say sexual assault has become far too common on college campuses. 22News found out that President Obama is getting involved to try to stop the problem.

The State defines sexual assault as a crime of violence; Sexual activity that is forced, coerced or unwanted. President Obama wants more to be done to prevent it.

“It’s really important when the President of the United States stands up and says this is a problem. We need to do something,” said Becky Lockwood, Associate Director at UMass Amherst Center for Women.

The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault is researching how to help schools prevent sexual assaults and how to respond to a complaint. While one in five women is sexually assaulted in college, it is not just a female issue.

“In the public’s view, I think it’s probably more female, but I believe in actuality, it’s really pretty equal,” said UMass Amherst Sophomore, Calvin Chase.

Students said they often see inappropriate and unwanted groping, but it’s not reported enough.

“A lot more emphasis needs to be placed on bystander intervention and how to do that, but also there needs to be communication about other ways of saying ‘no,’” said Sarah Schomp, a sophomore at UMass Amherst.

Becky Lockwood for UMass Center for Women and Community told 22News raising awareness of sexual assault is great, but it will require more than that to stop future cases.

“Education, there’s letting people who are victimized or sexually assaulted know what the resources are and responding to them in a really compassionate way and then there’s holding the people who perpetrate these acts accountable,” Lockwood told 22News.

Lockwood said with law enforcement following through with these crimes, others might think twice before sexually assaulting someone, and the idea that this is acceptable will change. The White House announced schools will now be getting tool kits to survey the scope of the problem on each campus.

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