SIU starts new Sexual Assault Learning Program - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

SIU starts new Sexual Assault Learning Program

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - There's a plan meant to help keep college students safe from sexual assault.

It's a problem that continues to grow on campuses across the country.

When they head to school this fall, students and staff will see a lot of changes designed to keep them safe.

"It is 100 percent preventable. No one should have to go through this," said Desiree Sheppard, a student at Southern Illinois University.

Sheppard is talking about sexual abuse.

She said she’s witnessed firsthand that type of abuse on campus and knows it is problem nationwide.

According to the Department of Public Safety at SIU, there were four sexual assaults reported in 2013.

Sheppard believes there were probably a lot more cases, but she thinks people don't know how to report these types of crimes.

"If we educate them while they're young, and talk to our children's friends, because like I said, it is not just physical,” she said.

Starting this fall, before incoming students step foot inside a classroom, students and staff will go through interactive training so they'll know what to do if they're the victim of or witness a sexual assault.

"A lot of the focus isn't on how to not be a victim yourself, a lot of it is how to help someone else,” said Chad Trisler who is the director of student rights and responsibilities on campus.

He said this is a first for SIU.

"We know that students don't necessarily know how to report something or file a report and have the university and they don't have to go through the legal process," he said.

The course takes about an hour to complete online and then another hour will be taught in a classroom.

"Students should expect to get involved, there's going to be a show of hands, skits some fun things like that,” said Trisler.

The anonymous data will be collected and used by the Student rights and responsibilities department to tailor what they teach throughout the year.

Incoming students will have access to the program August 18.

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