by Melissa Griffin
Manager of Health Promotion

The national focus on the importance of student safety and the prevention of sexual assaults on college campuses is linked to the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and the new campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act.

The new act requires higher-education institutions to effectively prevent, report and respond to acts of sexual violence. Fortunately, NAU is ahead of the curve on this issue and is taking additional steps to meet these new guidelines.

Sexual assault among college students is a significant issue for both women and men, including our LGBTQ community. The typical sexual assault happens in situations where large amounts of alcohol are consumed, and in the large majority of cases, the victim knows the perpetrator. Often these situations create feelings of confusion for the victim and may even lead to self-blame.

NAU has participated in national and statewide health and safety assessments for many years through the American College Health Association and Arizona Institution of Higher Education surveys. These surveys collect self-reported data and provide a baseline for student experiences of sexual violence.

Among the prevention programs in place at NAU is the requirement that new students complete the online My Student Body Essentials course. This course provides information about sexual violence, including the definition of consent, the important role of alcohol in most sexual assaults and strategies to become an active bystander in a potentially dangerous situation.

The Health Promotion Office also provides bystander training and is developing an online version to reach even more students. Peer educators teach students about healthy relationships and a variety of media campaigns help raise awareness about the issue of sexual assault

While NAU is well positioned under the new federal guidelines, there is always more that can be done as we strive to eliminate sexual assault for all of our students. In the meantime, our entire community can help support survivors of sexual assault by simply believing them when they tell you they were assaulted and remembering that nobody deserves to be raped.

For information and resources, please visit nau.edu/safe.