The Ottumwa Courier

Education

February 10, 2014

Indian Hills proactive in fight against sexual abuse

OTTUMWA — When President Barak Obama formed the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault in late January, colleges and universities began the wait to see what would be required of them.

Looking over the policies they already have in place, some schools are finding they already go above and beyond what is currently required.

In the Jan. 22 announcement, Obama gave the task force 90 days to compile recommendations on how schools can do a better job with prevention and response of sexual assault. Chris Bowser, dean of students at Indian Hills Community College, says the school believes they are ahead of the curve when it comes to protecting and supporting students.

"I'd be shocked if one came out contrary to what we're already doing, but we would do everything we can to enact their recommendations," he said. "We believe we are very well governed (on compliancy), and they will be things we would do regardless of the issue."

Iowa CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) reports that in the United States, about 22 million women and 1.6 million men have been sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Those who have been sexually assaulted are also more likely to have depression, battle substance abuse or suffer from a wide range of physical ailments.

"Much like Ottumwa, a college is a community themselves, and they're at no more risk than any other community," Bowser said. "But this is very much on our mind as a student service team. We think we're doing a pretty good job, but that doesn't mean we can't implement what they recommend."

Much of what colleges do now to prevent and report sexual abuse on campus stem from the Clery Act and SaVE Act. The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose information about crime on and near their respective campuses. The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE) is a 2013 amendment to the federal Jeanne Clery Act. SaVE was designed to help bolster the response to and prevention of sexual violence in higher education.

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