Students protest University of Iowa sexual assault responses

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University of Iowa protest 2-24-14 (WQAD Photo)

University of Iowa students have vowed to hold weekly protests until university policies concerning reported sexual assaults are changed.

Since the start of the current school year, university officials have issued eight notifications about sexual assaults reported on and near the University of Iowa campus.

There have been eight sexual assaults reported on campus since August of 2013, of those eight, five of the victims did not press charges.

“It’s hard for victims to follow through with pressing charges when the culture tells them that it is partially their fault,” said Chelsea Bacon, a protestor at the University of Iowa.

The Daily Iowan reported University of Iowa President Sally Mason responded to a question about the increase in sexual assault reports by saying, “The goal would be to end that, to never have another sexual assault.  That’s probably not a realistic goal just given human nature…”

Two days later, Mason released another statement concerning recent sexual assaults, saying, “Sexual assault is a terrible crime, one for which there is no excuse.  The UI will take all the actions in our power to prevent rapes, to support victims, and to prosecute offenders.  Even one sexual assault in our community is too many, and we must confront this together as a community.  I am committed to do everything in my power to end this terrible crime on our campus.”

Protesters say the statement is not enough.  They want an outright apology from Mason for her remarks.

Demonstrators on the street and online accuse the university of asking sexual assault victims questions that might infer some responsibility on the part of the victim.  Those questions allegedly include asking the victim what she wore at the time of the assault.

In addition to that policy change, demonstrators say the university can demonstrate the seriousness of the issue of sexual assault by adopting and implementing a zero-tolerance policy along with reforming the “timely warning” emails.

University of Iowa protesters 2-24-14 (WQAD Photo)

University of Iowa protesters 2-24-14 (WQAD Photo)