September was National Campus Safety Month, and an integral part of the month includes recognizing campus sexual violence. National Campus Safety Month encourages conversation on violence prevention at colleges and universities.

The prevalence of sexual assault on campus reminds us that we need to continue the conversation of gender-based violence and get involved to create a safer campus for everyone. To begin the conversation, let’s answer some common questions about gender-based violence.

Who is at risk?

  • 11.2% of all undergraduate students experience rape or sexual assault
  • 8.8% of female graduate and professional students experience rape or sexual assault
  • 2.2% of male graduate and professional students experience rape or sexual assault (Association of American Universities Campus Climate Survey)

Students are at an increased risk to experience sexual assault during the first few months of their first and second semester at college. This is often before new students have learned their resources on campus.

Who are perpetrators?

Usually, people associate rape or sexual violence with the stranger who is lurking in the alley, but most sexual assaults occur where the victim knows the perpetrator. It could be a colleague, a friend, somebody the victim trusts.

Is gender-based violence happening on our campus?

WSU Campus Climate Survey found that 20.6% of 1,333 students who responded in the Spring of 2017, said they experienced gender-based violence.

In the same survey in previous years,

  • 19.9% of respondents in the Spring of 2015 said they experienced gender- based violence
  • 21.5% of respondents in the Spring of 2016 said they experienced gender- based violence

However, according to Winona State’s campus security report, only one sexual assault occurred in 2013. None were reported in 2014, and six reports were made in 2015. Yet the numbers shown in campus surveys are much higher. It is evident that many assaults go unreported.

The Harsh Reality

It may seem our campus is safer than every other campus because so few reports have been filed, but that is just not true. These survey numbers show that Winona State actually falls within the national average.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of gender-based violence, you are encouraged to report the incident. Reporting will end the silence, start the conversation, and lead us towards a safer campus. Help us to create a community of awareness, you are not alone.

The RE Initiative

Fighting gender-based violence on campus is the RE Initiative, a group striving to provide information on sexual assault, domestic/dating violence, stalking and harassment. The RE Initiative wants to reduce incidents of violence on campus through bystander intervention and understanding consent.

How to Get Involved

To get involved in the RE Initiative, find out more about becoming a peer advocate, or a peer educator, call the WSU 24/7 Confidential GBV Help Line at 507.457.5610 or email the Gender-Based Violence Prevention & Intervention Coordinator at hgerdes@winona.edu.

Resources for Survivors

If you have been assaulted, know that it is not your fault, and you have resources on campus.

  • If you want to speak to an advocate confidentially, call the 24/7 Confidential GBV Helpline at 507.457.5610
  • A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner is on campus in the Health and Wellness Services in the IWC 222 to provide medical care at no charge
  • IWC 222 is also home to Counseling and Wellness Services, who provide counseling for students
  • An off-campus resource is the Women’s Resource Center, with their 24/7 crisis hotline at 507.452.4453
  • To find out more, please visit the RE Initiative webpage
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Michaela Gaffke

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