52° F

National task force focuses on sexual assault on college campuses

By Dave Delozier,
Published On: Apr 29 2014 08:07:43 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 29 2014 09:18:21 PM CDT

The phone at the Rape Crisis Center in Madison rings about 2,000 times a year from victims seeking help. Kelly Anderson, the center’s director, knows there are many victims out there who never call.


The phone at the Rape Crisis Center in Madison rings about 2,000 times a year from victims seeking help. Kelly Anderson, the center’s director, knows there are many victims out there who never call.

“There’s an assumption that sexual assaults get reported. Nationally only somewhere between 10 and 40 percent of sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement. So 60 to 90 percent of victims of sexual violence never report to law enforcement. On college campuses, it is a very low reporting rate,” Anderson said.

In an effort to address that problem, the White House has created a task force, which includes a website. The website provides information and resources for victims of sexual assault. The task force is also encouraging colleges and universities to provide resources and support for victims.

That is something the University of Wisconsin-Madison is already doing. The university provides information about sexual assault and resources for victims to all first-year students and their parents. They also have a one-hour online program about sexual assault that is available for first-year students to take before arriving on campus.

While the university has been proactive in dealing with the problem, UW-Madison Police Chief Susan Riseling believes more can be done.

“The UW is clearly on board and whatever we aren’t doing we will begin to do and obviously look at our policies and make sure things are best practices and not just in place but the best in the country,” Riseling said. “I also think we need to try to figure out how to communicate effectively with young women and young men, the young women to tell us when something terrible happens to them and the young men to understand that no means no and the absence of consent is not consent.”

Anderson hopes the efforts by the White House will push all universities to encourage victims of sexual assault to report the crimes. She said some colleges and universities with statistics showing a low incident of sexual assaults are simply not doing enough to encourage reporting.

“The pressure is that the small college that only gets a few reports a year and manages to bury this is going to look better statistically and safer statistically than the university that really engages with the issue and is trying to address it and trying to create a safe campus. So I think it is a real Catch-22 and I respect the universities like UW that chose to do the right thing,” Anderson said.

The phone number for the Rape Crisis Center in Madison is 608-251-RAPE.

  • Craig Spencer

    America's Ebola patients

    An American doctor who was working with Ebola patients in Guinea was been diagnosed with the disease after returning to New York. Learn more about him and America's other Ebola victims.

  • Hot peppers


    Notable food recalls

    A North Carolina producer of peppers and hot sauces is voluntarily recalling 6,215 pounds of fresh serrano chili peppers because some tested positive for salmonella. Here are other notable food recalls that made headlines.

  • Twitter

    Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

    Famous first tweets

    The Queen is on Twitter! Check out what she had to say and other famous first tweets.

  • jack-o-lantern Halloween pumpkin

    Juliet James/SXC


    Games, recipes, trick-or-treating, scary movies and everything else you need to make your Halloween extra spooky.

  • Politician, politics, debate, election

    iStock / bns124

    Election Coverage

    Get up-to-date on political stories, Reality Check the latest political ads, learn about the candidates and find election results in our special section.

  • Ebola virus pink


    Ebola special coverage

    Get the latest news on the Ebola outbreak and resources to help you learn more about the deadly virus.