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Howard Payne University wants students to be aware of college rape, sexual assault dangers

By Betty Nguyen, bnguyen@ktxs.com
Published On: Jan 23 2014 07:22:23 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 24 2014 12:56:21 PM CST
BROWNWOOD, Texas -

President Obama is urging colleges to step up their game to reduce the number of rapes and sexual assaults on campus.

Howard Payne University Dean of Students Brent Marsh said there haven't been any reported cases at HPU, but he still wants students to be educated and feel safe. He said awareness is key.

"We all just need to be vigilant," Marsh said. "We all need to be aware and alert, and just have respect and care for one another.

According to a recent White House report, one out of five female students have been assaulted on college campuses. However, only one out of eight of them are reported. Alcohol and drugs can sometimes be a factor in these incidents. Often, the victim knows the perpetrator.

"I think because of fear and other reasons, those rape incidents go unreported and that needs to change," Marsh said.

Marsh said students can turn to resident directors, university counselors and nurses, and campus police for help and guidance.

There will be a seminar at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, in the women's dorm, where all female students are invited to come discuss the issue of rape and sexual assault, learn about campus resources and ask any questions they may have.

"I want our women to have a voice on campus and I want them to feel empowered," Harvey said. "Some of them might think that rape is a bad word or that it's a faux pas thing, but it's ok to talk about these things. They happen. It doesn't make you less of a woman, less of a person ... it just means let's handle it."

Marsh said there are many student leaders and faculty who go through trainings so they know how to handle and investigate allegations of sexual assault.

"I feel like Howard Payne is very well-prepared for those kinds of incidents,” Marsh said. “That's just not something we tolerate. We don't treat people that way. If these incidents occur, they need to report it. That allows us to do the appropriate follow-up as a university to respond."

Be confident and trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. If you feel uncomfortable, speak up. Understand that no means no.

"People need to be sensitive to and respect other people's feelings," Marsh said.