Curbing Sexual Assault on Campus

By  | 

RENO, NV - Sexual assault on campuses has been a growing problem for decades and now, the White House is getting involved. As part of National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, the Obama Administration announced new guidelines for campuses nationwide.

At the University of Nevada, sexual assault remains a crime taken very seriously.

"This is a topic that makes students uncomfortable, but we've got to talk about it," said Shannon Ellis, Vice President of Student Services.

Sexual assault is a growing crime on campuses across the nation, but one that is not always black and white.

"Statistics tell us in cases we investigate, that the victim knows her aggressor in some form," says Todd Renwick with university police.

It's called acquaintance rape and many of them go unreported mostly because experts say victims often don't realize it is a crime.

"People feel ashamed. People feel embarrassed. They may not remember, but they wake up and know that someone has had sex with them. they may feel like, 'oh, I know that person' or 'he or she is a nice person, so I'll just pass it off,'" Ellis said.

In the U.S., one of every five women is sexually assaulted in college and it can be a hard crime to define as "rape," as it can take many forms.

"You can't really consent if you are intoxicated and so, a lot of girls don't realize it's rape in that case, so they don't end up reporting it," Aviva Kobany, a senior at the university, says.

"We may see a decrease per semester; we certainly haven't seen a spike or a skyrocket in these cases," said Renwick. "It stays pretty consistent."

Still, those who are victims are distracted from their education, causing them to drop out of school entirely.

"I think we have done a much better job of helping them stay, but every once in a while, a student just can't make it through or they just don't make it back in the next semester," said Ellis.

The university is stepping in to prove that educating students about what sexual assault is remains the best approach.

Among the services the university offers: a free escort service. The service runs until 1 a.m. seven days a week.