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Local colleges react to White House sexual assault task force


GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - President Obama has unveiled a new Task Force on Protecting Students from sexual assault.

The goal is to reduce sexual violence on college campuses.

Local colleges believe it's a step in the right direction to address this issue.

"I like the idea that they're putting together a team to kind of create a tool box of here's the best practices we're finding across the country," says UW-Green Bay Judicial Affairs Coordinator Mark Olkowski. "So that we could pick out some of those and say we think these will work on our campus or this will work for our population on campus."

Olkowski points out that what works for their traditional 18-to-22-year-olds that are living in residence halls are different than what they might do for their 30-to-40-year-olds who take online courses.

At St. Norbert College, officials hold very frank discussions with new students about life on campus, the warning signs, how to get treatment and report it. They also bring out statistics freshmen need to hear.

"I've been here 17 years, and I would say 95 to 98% of the time alcohol was involved," says Vice President for Mission and Student Affairs Jay Fostner. "We have not had any stranger assaults; ours that are reported are aquaintance sexual misconducts."

On each campus, the schools make all the information available to the students in a variety of ways. In the 21st century, that includes campus-wide alerts and even freshening up the verbiage for students in order to get the message out.

"We've actually got one student that's becoming our primary writer of a lot of that content, so that we're putting it in language that students understand and so it meets their needs," says Olkowski.

All in all, the White House's goal is to ensure every American gets basic security, justice and dignity. 

"Everything that gets reported to us gets reported to De Pere police automatically for checks and balances," says Fostner. "But the main point is that people are supported if something happens to them."

A White House report on sexual violence on college campuses shows that one-in-five young women have been sexually assaulted while in college.

(Partial reporting by Metro Source)