University of Iowa Develops Plans to Combat Sexual Assaults

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa officials recently reacted strongly to a shocking statistic about sexual assault on the campus as a survey showed more than 20 percent of undergraduate women reported being raped at the school.

"The fact of the matter is the number is horrible, it's a scourge in our society and what’s important is that we work to bring that number down," said Tom Rocklin, Vice President of Student Life.

For those who reported being raped, more than one-fourth of them said it happened more than once. To address these numbers, the college is implementing a two-year plan to combat the problem.

“I just know a lot of people who have dealt with this and close people to me, numerous girls that it`s happened to in Greek life,” said University of Iowa sophomore Sydney Roper.

The female students say rape happens more often than people think, and often times the victim is the one who ends up getting the blame.

“I feel like the victim feels like it`s their fault for dressing the way that they want to and they`re just expressing themselves,” said freshman Kassidy Riesi. “I don`t know, boys should keep it in their pants and if they say no, they say no.”

“People make comments about like if it happens to you, it`s kind of like well what were you doing that caused it?” said sophomore Shelby Hourigan. “I definitely hear especially from older people, they tend to say like well ‘what were you wearing, or how were you acting, were you drinking?’”

Some of the male students Channel 13 spoke with were surprised by the survey`s results.

“I certainly knew it was a problem but definitely didn`t know to the full extent of how bad it was,” said junior Dominic Rowley.

Heath Schintler is well aware of how bad the problem is. That`s why he volunteers with the Women's Resource & Action Center.

“I’m a member of a fraternity at the University of Iowa,” said Schintler. “I know that the rape culture is perpetuated far too often in the Greek community, so I felt more of a responsibility than maybe I would otherwise to try and make a difference.”

The university recently completed a six-point plan to combat sexual assault.

  1. Crack down on offenders
  2. Increase support for survivors
  3. Improve prevention and education
  4. Improve communication
  5. Add funding
  6. Listen more and report back

In addition to that plan, the University of Iowa announced a new two-year anti-violence plan for sexual misconduct, dating violence, and stalking. The three parts of the plan are prevention and education, intervention, and policy.

All degree-seeking students were sent an invitation to participate in the survey. That’s nearly 29,000 people.

Less than 2,700 completed the survey. That's less than a 10 percent response rate.

The University of Iowa says given the low response rate, the survey findings should be interpreted with caution and that the findings represent the experiences of those students who completed the survey but do not necessarily represent the experiences of all University of Iowa students.