Missouri State combats sexual assault with education and victim resources

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Studies dating back a decade show that sexual assault is more likely to occur on a college campus within the first six weeks of classes, and Missouri State's Title IX office is all too familiar with those numbers.

"I think they're doing enough, but I think they can do more," grad student Shae Darough says.

The Title IX office partners with Green Dot, a national program aimed at helping victims of sexual assault, to give those affected a safe place to go, or in some cases, help. MSU Title IX Coordinator Jill Patterson says increasing visibility has helped the department make a bigger impact.

"When something happens to some one it becomes more and more likely that someone in that conversation will say, 'hey, you should go see Jill,'" she says.

She says there are many factors for why those first six weeks are so troubling, "there are many people spreading their wings away from their parents and their good advice for the first time," she said.

The office shows a PowerPoint presentation to all incoming freshmen outlining the steps they can take to avoid and report sexual assaults. That's helped increase awareness.

"When people come to campus and see a sexual assault happen they're in the know now, like yes, this could happen to you," Darough says.

But the PowerPoint also includes one of the more troubling statistics - about a quarter of victims don't tell anybody what happened to them.

"There's so many people on this campus who are afraid to speak out because they feel like nothing's going to be done to the person that assaulted them," MSU Junior Glynnessa Smith says.

There's no limit on when you have to report assaults to the Title IX Office. They appreciate how important time is to victims.

"We want to help them," Patterson says.

It's early but the Title IX Office says the numbers compared to last year are down.

If you need to report an assault, you can follow a link to MSU's Green Dot web site from this page.