ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A new report is shining light on unwanted sexual contact experiences on college campuses.
A survey was completed by the Association of American Universities. It found that one in four undergraduate women at over a dozen universities have experienced unwanted sexual contact.
A local victim turned activist said the best line of defense is awareness.
“I just had to talk about it in order to get through it,” Reina Kiefer said.
Last April, Kiefer said she was raped by another student at Skidmore College. But instead of expelling her accused assailant, the school only suspended him until 2017 for violating its sexual misconduct policy.
It was an incomplete victory for Kiefer.
“What the school is saying is, yes, he raped you, but no, it’s not worthy of expulsion,” she said.
Now her words are a vessel for the thousands of suppressed victims of campus sexual assault.
“People sort of swept it under the rug, and said, ‘Oh sure, it happens, but it’s not that common,’” she said. “But I think that what our country is discovering is that it’s incredibly common.”
The report by the Association of American Universities that in addition to the one in four incidents of unwanted sexual contact, there were many serious not reported. It cites some students felt embarrassed or didn’t think the incident was “serious enough.”
Many colleges have blue lights on campus in case of an emergency, but after the report’s release, the company is taking it a step further.
The BlueLight company has launched an app that instantly routes your location to the nearest responder and sends your emergency contacts an alert with a map to where you are.
While the BlueLight app is a step in the right direction, Kiefer said technology alone issn’t enough to combat the high number of sexual assaults on college campuses.
“I think if I could say just one thing to encourage people to talk about it, it’s scary at first, but I find that it’s really worth it,” she said.
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sounded off on the new report. She asked how many surveys will it take before Congress acts on the crimes.
Gillibrand drafted legislation to fight campus sexual assaults and one of the provisions would require colleges to follow a uniform protocol in handling sexual assault cases.
The results were in line with past surveys on sexual assault and misconduct on college campuses and confirmed that alcohol and drugs are important risk factors.