Higher Education
8:32 am
Wed June 1, 2011

Universities Partner To End Violence Against Women

Two men were arraigned last month in connection with an alleged sexual assault at Southern Connecticut State University. SCSU is part of a consortium of Connecticut colleges and universities that are working together to reduce violence against women. As part of our continuing series on campus safety, WNPR's Diane Orson reports. 

The statistic is hard to believe. A U.S. Department of Justice study finds one in five women will become a victim of rape or attempted rape while in college.

"This is a not talked about phenomena"  

Ron Herron is vice president for student and university affairs at Southern CT State University. He’s also leading a pioneering coalition of nine universities in Connecticut – public and private – who are talking to students and to each other, about sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking on their campuses.

"It puts the challenge into the light to let us acknowledge it, to be open about it and therefore to potentially empower victims to conclude my institution cares about this. And maybe there is some way that justice can be obtained."

The coalition is made up of Southern, Central, Eastern and Western Connecticut State Universities along with UConn, Quinnipiac, Trinity College, the University of Bridgeport and University of Hartford. The group focuses on coordinating response to sexual misconduct,  training university police officers and judicial boards, and educating students about sexual violence. 

Herron says alcohol is often part of the problem.

"The other lesson to be learned however is that sexual assault does not occur because of alcohol. And too frequently the public at large blames alcohol and tries to link the two.  But this is about power and control and about decision making that one makes on one’s own accord."

The Connecticut Campus Coalition to End Violence Against Women was established in the fall of 2010 under a grant from the US Department of Justice.