Governor announces campus sexual assault prevention initiatives - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Governor announces campus sexual assault prevention initiatives

Gov. Terry McAuliffe signs executive order establishing a task force on sexual violence on college campuses. (Source: NBC12) Gov. Terry McAuliffe signs executive order establishing a task force on sexual violence on college campuses. (Source: NBC12)
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

As students across the Commonwealth head back to university classes, state officials are making sure they'll be safe. Thursday, the governor and attorney general announced two initiatives to combat sexual violence on college campuses.

On the steps of the Capitol, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed a joint declaration with the presidents of state schools and community colleges in which they pledged they'll fight sexual violence. A task force also created Thursday will bring together the people who can do that.

According to statistics, one in five women is sexually assaulted in college. During her freshman year at UVA, Emily Renda became part of that statistic.

"It was a classic case of kind of somebody I didn't really know very well who I met at a party and we went back to his room because I thought we were going to hang out, and clearly our intentions didn't match up," she described.

Emily never made a report.

"I like many survivors spent a lot of the time initially, after recovery, blaming myself for what had happened and I felt like if I were reporting, I was doing something unjust and that I was holding somebody accountable for something that was ultimately my fault," Renda recalled.

The now-22-year-old, who graduated from the University of Virginia just three months ago, says there are things that would have made a difference in her case.

"You didn't really think twice about you might not be able to trust someone who you just met who is your peer," Renda added. "Had we had a little more conversation about what sexual assault was, I think I would've felt earlier on that what happened to me counted." 

That's why she's serving on the governor's new task force.

The group will figure out what is the best way to handle these sensitive situations so the responses are focused on the survivors. They'll also look into disciplinary proceedings on campus and appropriate punishments.

"Every student in Virginia must know that if you report sexual violence or sexual misconduct you will not be pressured, you will not be judged and you will be treated at all times with the respect," Attorney General Mark Herring told us.

On October 30th and 31st, there will be a statewide summit with campus law enforcement and administrators to discuss issues on the topic and go over challenges. Then, the task force is expected to present a final report by June first.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved

Powered by Frankly