Minnesota Office of Higher Education Working To Prevent Sexual Violence On College Campuses

MSUM was their second stop

MOORHEAD, Minn. — One in five women are sexually assaulted at college campuses across the United States.

But it’s not just the attack that can have an effect on the victim; it’s also the first person she opens up to about it.

“The research shows that the first responder and the response of the first responder when a sexual violence incident has happened can change the trajectory of that individual’s response,” said Melissa Kwon, campus sexual violence prevention and response coordinator for Minnesota’s Office of Higher Education.

Minnesota’s Office of Higher Education is working to reduce the number of women sexually assaulted on college campuses and trying to educate students, staff, and first responders about the best way to respond to someone who’s been raped.

Some say one of the best ways to focus on prevention is by looking at the university’s culture.

“We should be doing primary prevention, so thinking about culture systems and environmental change so how can we change that culture of the campus or the environments of the campus,” Kwon said.

“We can have a strategy but if we don’t understand the culture then that strategy might not be as helpful,” said Ashley Atteberry, MSUM Title IX coordinator.

The Office of Higher Education has started to focus on prevention through tool kits provided to Minnesota colleges and universities.

“The tool kit provides some flyers that campuses can just print out and post around campus in support of sexual violence prevention month and to raise awareness. One of the main flyers in particular includes some resources,” Kwon said.

Those resources include Minnesota’s sexual assault hotline, where victims can find shelter and ways universities can start its own sexual violence prevention campaigns.

“Not that it’s not critically important to be doing the response, but we also need to be doing prevention on the back end so that we can be reducing the incidents that happen in the first place,” Kwon said.

Minnesota’s Office of Higher Education made their first stop at Metropolitan State University yesterday.

Some of the feedback they got included providing student trainings and staff trainings on how to prevent and handle sexual violence.

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