Local News

EWU taking proactive steps to prevent sexual assault

EWU taking proactive steps to prevent...

CHENEY, Wash. - A police advisory sent out last week is just one many steps that the university is taking to be proactive about educating students and responding to reports of assault.

School leaders told KXLY that they are committed to providing support for survivors while creating a culture of education and prevention. Eastern Washington senior and ASEWU President Gaige Baisch says while it's tough to talk about sex assault, it's important for students to know about it .

"Is it a problem on college campuses? I'm gonna say yes. I think that any happening more than once is a problem," Baisch said.

Eastern is just one of many universities across the nation facing the topic. EWU Spokesperson Dave Meany said educating students and providing support is a top priority.

"You get kids who are away from home for the first time. For some of them, it's a new experience, so part of our responsibility is to provide a safe and encouraging environment, providing them with the educational resources and programs to help them understand what's out there," Meany said.

Campus police issued an advisory last week, detailing that there have been several reports of sexual assaults occurring in the community. While no criminal complaints have been filed as of Monday evening, school officials say they want students to be aware of the dangers and should take advantage of school programs if they need them.

"The victims, the survivors, it's not their fault and we encourage them to come forward so we can address these problems, find the perpetrator, if there is one, and educate at the same time," Meany said.

Baisch emphasized the importance of a community effort. He said every person can be a part of making sure that students and staff feel safe and supported.

"This may not be the most perfect world, but you have those people to fall back on. You have those relationships to fall back on and really help each other to be better," Baisch said.

There are four primary resources available at EWU to address sex assault:

Think About it is an online course that all new students, as well as student-athletes and Greek life students take each year. It covers sexual assault education and prevention, high-risk drinking, drug use and university resources.

Students also participate in a program called Speaking of Sex that all new students do during welcome week. That program addresses sexual assault education and interpersonal communication about sex, consent and healthy relationships.

Start By Believing is a campus-wide public awareness campaign launched last year to support survivors of sexual assault through positive community response and bystander intervention.

In addition to those programs, EWU conducts year-round educational programming through the Health, Wellness, and Prevention Services and Housing and Residential Life departments.

To report an assault, you should contact EWU police by calling 359-7676 or by calling the anonymous tip line at 359-4286.