New bill aimed at stopping college sexual assaults - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

New bill aimed at stopping college sexual assaults

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MACOMB, Ill. (WGEM) - Can you imagine your kids' college ignoring reports of sexual assaults?

A Senate Subcommittee found 41 percent of colleges didn't conduct investigations into alleged sexual assaults in the last five years, despite incidents that had been reported.

Western Illinois University Sophomore Eriel Lockhart walks all over campus to and from classes. She says it's an experience that can be unnerving when it's dark.

"I kind of usually fast walk," Lockhart said. "I kind of watch my surroundings."

Those fears are especially heightened because Lockhart has heard stories.

"There were women being harassed," Lockhart said. "I think there have been two instances for my freshman year."

WIU Director of Public Safety Scott Harris says they receive about 6 sexual assault reports a year, but he says that doesn't mean there aren't more victims out there.

"The victim for a lot of reasons may not want to come forward," Harris said. "It's a traumatic type crime."

The new legislation introduced by U.S. Senators would hold colleges more accountable by fining schools that were underreporting or not investigating all alleged incidents.

Harris' says his officers completed sexual assault training last year and he plans to have them complete another course this year.

He says these voluntary courses have prepared his team to handle sexual violence on campus.

"I hope that we are doing what we can, but we can always do more," Harris said.

The efforts by Harris' team and the proposed legislation are comforting for people like Alexis Morales, who starts college in a couple weeks at WIU.

"I would definitely feel a lot safer considering I'm a girl," Morales said. "It's different for guys. They don't have to worry as much."

For more information on the sexual violence services provided by WIU, click the link below:   
   
http://www.wiu.edu/student_services/ivpi/



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