Majority of students don't believe sexual assault is a problem at MU

Female students are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than male students.

Eighty percent of undergraduate men at MU believe sexual assault is not a problem on campus.

Only 19.6 percent of undergraduate males, compared to 37.1 percent of undergraduate females, at MU reported that sexual assault or sexual misconduct is very much or extremely problematic at MU, according to the AAU Climate Survey released Sept. 21. The survey, released Sept. 27, collected data from 27 universities around the country about sexual assault on their campuses.

The same survey results report that one-third of MU senior women experienced unwanted sexual conduct during their time at MU.

17.9 percent of male undergraduates suspect a friend may have been sexually assaulted compared to 28.7 percent of female undergraduates.

Although MU already recognized there was a sexual assault problem on campus,”the survey is an opportunity for us to take a closer look at what the climate actually is here,” MU Title IX Coordinator Ellen Eardley said after the survey was announced.

8.8 percent of male undergraduates intervened to stop an incident of sexual assault compared to 12.1 percent of undergraduates females.

“The numbers range on each campus,” Eardley said. “But all of the numbers are too high.”

These statistics suggest that the definitions of sexual assault, harassment or misconduct may be different for men and women at MU. However, a larger population of the women at MU completed the survey than men.

Parker Briden, vice president of public relations for the Interfraternity Council, said IFC is “doing whatever we can” to educate its members about sexual assault, specifically on the topics of bystander intervention and consent.

“(At our regular committee meetings), we have talked about how important is it to educate all members on consent and eliminating sexual misconduct,” Briden said. “We want to do what we can within our own sphere of influence.”

This is the first semester IFC has implemented the peer educator program, Briden said.

“We want our fraternity men to have the best education to prevent sexual misconduct on campus,” Briden said. “We want to use everything in our tool chest to make that happen.”

Mizzou Athletics has been under scrutiny in the past for sexual assault, specifically for the case of Sasha Menu Courey, who was allegedly raped by a member of the football team. Menu Courey took her own life in June 2011.

Since the incident, MU has made several policy changes, including promoting the Title IX Coordinator position to full-time and requiring all UM System employees to report any assault or harassment information to the Title IX office.

A sexual assault communications task force was appointed by former athletic director Mike Alden in March 2014 to review existing Intercollegiate Athlete policies, according to a summary of athletic department educational and communication initiatives.

Alden implemented the “See it, Hear it, Own it” policy, also known as SHO. Student athletes and staff received wristbands and T-shirts with the “SHO-Up!” logo.

The “SHO-Up!” T-shirts are to be worn on the fourth Friday of every month to serve as a visual reminder of student athlete and staff responsibility in response to sexual assault.

Student athletes also participate in regular programs and discussions with Title IX directors and MU Intercollegiate Athlete faculty.

20.5 percent of undergraduate men witnessed someone acting in a sexually violent or harassing manner compared to 27.1 percent of female undergrads.

MU Provost Garnett Stokes will create a task force to take a harder look at the survey results, create focus groups and implement a strategic plan “to make sure that we are building upon the education efforts that have already been ongoing on campus,” Eardley said.

2 percent of male undergraduates believe they are very or extremely likely to experience sexual assault or misconduct on campus compared to 12.3 percent of female undergraduates.

Of female undergraduates at MU, 18.1 percent participated in the AAU Climate Survey while only 9.6 percent of undergraduate males participated in the survey, according to the AAU Climate Survey.

The survey reported that female students are also four times more likely than male students to be a victim of nonconsensual penetration or sexual touching due to force.

This year, many different programs are being implemented for the general student population at MU.

All new and incoming students must participate in one of these programs, the new Not Anymore online training, that “provides baseline understanding about what sexual assault is, what consent is, what healthy relationships looks like, and also provides them information about their rights and their options,” Eardley said.

One of the most important messages of Not Anymore, Eardley said, is bystander intervention, which teaches students how to stand up and say something when they find themselves or their peers in an unacceptable situation.

The training also gives students the opportunity to build up their knowledge by offering follow up discussions and talking more in detail about sexual assault education.

Eardley held a press conference Sept. 21 to discuss the survey results and present strategies on how to confront them.

“The Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center on campus has done an excellent job and it’s an amazing resource that the University of Missouri has had that a number of universities don’t have a resource like this,” Eardley said.

Over the last year, the RSVP Center hired three additional staff members to work on education and prevention as well as advocacy, Eardley said.

The Interfraternity Council is participating in the RSVP Center’s initiative for men peer educators who go out and teach other fraternity men about sexual assault and bystander intervention, Eardley said.

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