Column: Keep campus sexual assault at the forefront
For far too long, the issue of campus sexual assault has been swept under the rug. As a mother of three young adult children — one who is currently in college — it breaks my heart knowing that so many of our young people face danger and uncertainty on campus during what should be one of the happiest times of their lives. I believe that as a state, we can and should do everything we can to tackle this issue head-on. That’s why three years ago I launched the “Inform. Empower. Prevent. Let’s End Campus Sexual Assault” initiative. Our mission from the very beginning has been to change the culture that surrounds campus sexual assault, and so far, we’ve made tremendous progress.
We have seen incredible eagerness and support from our colleges and universities to address this issue. This year, I was honored to host our third annual Summit at Eastern Michigan University to engage college and high school students, college and university officials, lawmakers, administrators and topic experts for a day-long discussion about how we can strengthen our statewide awareness and prevention efforts.
I’m also proud that for the third year in a row, the Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program will have more than a half million dollars available for colleges and universities to use to create innovative, student-driven awareness and prevention strategies on campus.
As a state, we have unified to tackle this sensitive but important issue — but there is more work to be done.
Although our goal is to ultimately prevent assaults from happening in the first place, the sad reality is that there are students on campus who have already been assaulted — and feel they have nowhere to turn.
That’s why I created the Campus Sexual Assault Workgroup — which brought together experts from a variety of fields who work directly on this topic — to develop a resource handbook that is now available to colleges, universities and their community partners. I am proud of the work this group has done to create a comprehensive guide of resources and services to help survivors of campus sexual assault begin their journey toward healing.
As Michigan’s first lady, I have the tremendous privilege of using my voice to help inspire more than nine million Michiganders on a topic that I care so deeply about. Until we see the day when there are no sexual assaults being reported on Michigan’s campuses, our work is far from over.
I ask the entire state of Michigan to join me in the ongoing fight to inform those around us about the prevalence of campus sexual assault, to empower survivors to speak up, and to prevent assault from happening in the first place.
Together, we can change our culture, and together, we can put an end to campus sexual assault. View and download the resource handbook at www.mi.gov/campussexualassault.
Sue Snyder is first lady of Michigan.