UI Student responds to "Speak Out Iowa" sexual assault survey

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) EDITOR'S NOTE: Added reference

A second study has reaffirmed findings that about one in five women attending the University of Iowa reports being raped since enrolling.

The University released results today from its second "Speak Out Iowa" survey on campus safety. It hopes to use the results to shape a policy for combating sexual violence. The survey found female students have a significantly higher chance of being victims of sexual misconduct. It also showed students face the highest risk of sexual violence in their first year on campus.

UI provides prevention training at orientation for first-year students and throughout their first semester. But one student says the university needs to do more.

"It needs to happen throughout their process and I think we need to really integrate more into their curriculum and their experience at the university to prevent the overall issue of violence," said University of Iowa student Ryan Hall.

The survey also finds that most victims of sexual violence on campus never tell authorities.

"It's always concerning when our students are at risk," said UI Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator Monique DiCarlo. "When data suggest that our students continue to experience these issues."

But Hall says the results aren't shocking.

"I don't see it as a surprise and I don't think it's a surprise to the community either," said Hall.

That survey was conducted anonymously. The university believes the anonymity allows students to speak truthfully about how safe they feel on campus.

The survey also shows many students don't know what happens when a student makes a report or where to get help on campus. It shows most students aren't speaking up when a friend is in a violent relationship or might be in a risky situation, areas where early education can make a difference.

"I'm a survivor of sexual assault myself and I didn't know how to put a word to it until I was more educated around the issue," said Hall.

Hall says being honest about an experience with sexual violence isn't common but something Hall feels is necessary to help others.

"I've embraced that identity, even though it's something people don't really want to embrace," said Hall.

He's a member of "U for Us," an organization that supports sexual assault survivors by making it easier to report incidents. They're topics Hall wants the University to focus on.

"We want to improve the reporting so it doesn't traumatize survivors as they go through the process," said Hall. "We're really trying to hold the university accountable to make it more transparent, to make it more accessible to those victims of sexual assault."

The University used the survey results to form its third iteration of a plan to combat sexual violence on campus.

In 2014, the University of Iowa released a six-point plan to address sexual assault on campus; from increasing communication to students about reports of sexual assault to expanding the free late night ride service.

"It's not just an issue here at the University of Iowa," said DiCarlo. "It's a cultural issue, it's a community wide issue (and) it's a worldwide issue. We need all of us to work together to pull in a direction to end sexual violence."

"There's a lot to be done still but it's advocacy, education, prevention and trying to change the narrative," said Hall.

To view the survey findings in their entirety, click here.

For more information on the school's anti-violence plan, click here.