This fall, researchers in Kansas and Georgia will begin studying college sexual assault policies, hoping to find ways to make them better, according to the Huffington Post. They'll be spending three years studying policies at specific schools in depth, and coming up with recommendations to change them. Because while we've all become more aware of sexual assault and really want to change how it's handled, there hasn't been too much research into exactly how to do that.
The research project is titled the Heartland Sexual Assault Policies & Prevention on Campuses Project. The researchers, who come from the University of Kansas and the Georgia Independent College Association, will be looking at sexual misconduct policies at different colleges and trying to find what can be improved. They'll look at several different types of schools, including public, private, technical, community and historically black schools. They'll study options like combining sexual assault education with alcohol education, customizing bystander intervention to each school, and involving men more in the conversation around sexual assault.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will fund both projects with large grants. KU gets $750 thousand, and Georgia gets $579 thousand. Remember how much President Obama and Vice President Biden have brought up sexual assault in the last few months? This is their chance to actually put their money where their mouth is and create serious change.
Alesha Doan, spokesperson for the KU project, explains that these projects are important because while there isn't any college left unaware of the problem at this point, there are many that "don't have the capacity to deal with it or don't know how to go about dealing with it."
"Sexual violence has historically been discussed as a problem that individual women experience, which has kept this problem hidden, discussed in secrecy and shame, and has contributed to ignoring the deleterious impact sexual violence poses for society," Doan said in a University of Kansas press release. Now that the issue of sexual assault has finally become part of the national conversation, these researchers want to find ways to combat this massive problem with solutions that actually work.
Let's hope their results will lead to more impactful programs at all of our schools.