AMES, Iowa — Sexual assaults and misconduct have increased almost two percent on the Iowa State Campus in the last four years, that is according to an Association of American Universities Campus Climate survey.
The university is taking action to try to reduce these kinds of crimes by creating programming such as The Green Dot, which encourages conversations around consent and bystander intervention.
“It’s really helping them challenge their own perceptions, to feel courageous, and to be okay with standing up and being different if necessary,” Iowa State University’s Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity Margo Foreman said.
Forman said many students come to college without ever talking about interpersonal relationships and consent.
“Have they had those conversations about, this is what it means to be an adult and to be responsible for your actions, this is what it means to be in a healthy relationship, how to have boundaries and articulate those,” Foreman said.
Iowa State said since creating the Green Dot program in 2017, 5,200 students, faculty and staff have voluntarily joined the program. They believe their bystander intervention teachings have made a difference on campus.
Among the 12 and a half percent of students who have witnessed a situation they believe could leave to a sexual assault, 73 percent took some type of action and nearly 48 percent directly intervened.
Even though the number of bystander interventions has increased, some students on campus said the conversation around sexual assault doesn’t happen among friends.
“When something happens on campus, the university sends out emails to everybody, so we hear about that. As far as hearing it through friends, it’s not really something that’s talked about,” Iowa State Senior Riley Spick said.
The school understands that alcohol can be a catalyst in sexual assault, so they are thinking of ways to engage partnerships with bars by hosting training inside bars, but they are still looking for other ways to engage with students.
“I know there’s universities who do coasters or do napkins with whatever their prevention programs are and so having that kind of dialogue, those are the kinds of things we want to do between now and the next AAU survey opportunity,” Foreman said.
Iowa State said it takes every incident of sexual misconduct seriously and lets the student decide what’s next.