Opinion | Sexual Assault prevention is lacking at the UI

The University of Iowa needs to put more of an emphasize on preventing sexual assault rather than focusing on the aftermath.


Grace Smith

The Nite Ride transportation vehicle is seen on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021.

Elise Cagnard, Opinions Contributor

By the time you’re done reading this, someone will be a victim of sexual assault. This is especially prevalent on college campuses. In fact, women in college are three times more likely experience sexual violence than women out of college.

The University of Iowa provides access to counseling services, support groups, and hotlines. It’s no question that they try to do what they can to make victims feel heard.

But with all the focus on the aftermath of sexual assault, what has been lacking is an adequate prevention plan. The university needs to ramp up their efforts when it comes to educating students on what resources are available to them — and making sure those resources are efficient.

A key strategy the university is missing is communicating all the resources available to students. Once they step on campus, students are essentially left to fend for themselves.

The university is part of a safety app called Rave Guardian. If this is a surprise to you, you are not alone. When asked about it, almost every one of the 15 students I talked to were unaware that the app existed. Providing safety resources that essentially nobody knows about is pointless.

Some resources have been well publicized, like Nite Ride, a free late-night riding service that can pick you up and drop you off anywhere on campus between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The service is available to anyone associated with the university. And while a great idea, the service has its own access problems.

If you’ve taken advantage of this riding service, you know that on busy weekend nights, the Nite Ride vans can take a considerable amount of time to get to you. One of my friends who is a frequent user of the service said it once took two hours for Nite Ride to pick him up.

If a student is relying on this app to get out of an unsafe situation without having to walk home alone in the dark, they need to plan hours in advance and, of course, people don’t tend to plan to put themselves in a risky or uncomfortable situation. Whether it is from a lack of drivers or the app getting overloaded, Nite Ride is not a reliable or quick getaway for students in need.

Additionally, the UI needs to advertise additional forms of resources available to students, like the Rape Victim Advocacy Program.

In light of recent sexual assault allegations against members of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, there has been a strong response from the University of Iowa, where a well of information has been provided, whether that’s through flyers from RVAP or hotline information.

While it is an admirable thing that the University is doing, this spread of information cannot stop when sexual assault is no longer spotlighted. This information should always be made widely known and students should be informed of all the resources once they step foot on campus. This knowledge is essential for students to have a safe life on campus and can be the key for lowering the number of sexual assaults on campus.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.

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