AUSTIN (KXAN) — Raneem Asharawi says she was sexually assaulted on campus by a Residential Advisor during her freshman year at St. Edward’s University.
“He assaulted me, I said no…and he did things anyway,” remembers Asharawi. Now a senior, Asharawi says things can still be improved when it comes to how higher education campuses deal with sexual assaults that’s why she participated in events hosted by the school once the university become part of a White House initiative called “It’s on Us.” The program encourages students to report assaults, support survivors and identify situations where sexual assaults can take place.
Since the university joined in 2014, Asharawi and other students have participated in panels and townhalls to educate students and staff.
“People were sharing those articles on Facebook and I know that people were starting to say wow I had no idea it was like this.”
She sees the program as a first step to changing the way we view sexual assaults and more importantly preventing them. “It’s about culture more than it is about laws and culture. A culture like that that is so engrained in every institution, not just campuses, it is hard to change over night.”
As part of the program, the White House recommended schools conduct campus climate study. A university spokesperson says the study hasn’t happened yet but is scheduled for next school year.
According to a report, one in five women at the University of Texas at Austin has been sexually assaulted. UT is one of 27 schools participating in the survey.
An app to help
The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault launched an app a couple years ago called Tx Safety U. It connects users with help or a place to report sexual assault on major campuses across the Texas. TAASA is encouraging students to download the free resource.