White House takes charges in fighting sexual assault on campuses


While still facing criticism over Obamacare, government shut downs and privacy breaching, the White House recently made a decision that is intended to benefit campuses across the country. The Obama administration recently announced a plan that will serve to address and prevent sexual assaults on college campuses.
The issue of sexual assault was addressed a few years ago by Vice President Joe Biden in a Dear Colleague letter to colleges. This new initiative, however, will put even more action into addressing the problem.
“I think the White House’s initiative against sexual assault will only further the necessary standards and attention needed to create a culture that is intolerant of sexual assault, intimate partner violence and stalking by putting into action further prevention, education and intervention efforts–giving them weight and funding attention,” said Charlotte Russell, who is the coordinator of Title IX and oversees a campus adjudication process for the University of Nebraska at Omaha victims of sexual assault and harassment.
According to the report “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action,” one in five women have been sexually assaulted in college. Although so many rapes and sexual assaults happen on campus, very few are ever reported and victims often go on to suffer from future mental health and drug problems.
The White House initiative is intended to change campus environments, but UNO has already been fighting assaults with Voices Against Violence.
“UNO’s Voices Against Violence is a task force comprised of UNO faculty, staff and students along with community members that are passionate about and committed to reducing violence and providing education and prevention,” Russel said.
“Some of our initiatives have included conducting research, reviewing policies and procedures, bringing a violence prevention program to campus and hosting awareness and educational events,” said Nicole Naatz, facilitator for Voices Against Violence and a UNO counselor. UNO also collaborates with Women’s Center for Advancement and the Methodist SANE/SART program in Omaha.
The UNO services will now be able to work alongside the new White House initiative.
“UNO has existing and ongoing efforts that stem from several offices on campus that will continue to work towards efforts in carrying out this initiative. This is and will continue to be a collaborative effort; sexual assault concerns us all and everyone has a role in changing the future,” Naatz said.
Since the White House is getting involved in preventing sexual assault, it is a great time for students and staff to get involved as well. There are a number of things the UNO community can do to become proactive. One of these things is requesting a Green Dot training. Green Dot is UNO’s violence prevention program and serves to teach faculty, staff, and students how to help prevent violence instead of being passive bystanders. Students are also invited to join Voices Against Violence. Russell also advises that students and staff should be aware of the resources available for victims and should hold friends accountable.
Victims of assault should know that they are not alone.
“Remember that whatever you are experiencing, however you are responding is normal and the event is not your fault,” Russell said.  “There are people who understand the dynamics of sexual assault and the after effects. UNO has several resources and is connected to community resources.”
Victims are encouraged to talk with friends and family and can find resources to help them in the offices of UNO Counseling Center, UNO Health Services, UNO Campus Security,  and the Office of Equity, Access & Diversity. Community resources can be found at the SANE/SART program at the Methodist Hospital or at the Women’s Center for Advancement.
For those looking for more information on how to get involved with Green Dot, email unogreendot@unomaha.edu or visit their office in MBSC 110B. To get involved with Voices Against Violence, contact Nicole Naatz at 402-554-2409.