Lawmakers listen to concerns about campus sexual assault issues at PSU

Preventing and reporting sexual assault became a big focus at Portland State University on Tuesday as U.S. Senators and a representative from Oregon listened to concerns.

Statistics show that 1-in-5 women report being sexually assaulted in college, and those are just the reported cases.

Local students and Oregon dignitaries agree that we have to do better to help victims and prevent future attacks.

“There’s definitely some changes on campus happening and I think overall our nation is trying to pay a little bit more attention, but I think there’s a lot of work to be done,” said Becca Maher, PSU Women’s Resource Center.

On Tuesday, students and victim advocates gathered for a discussion at PSU with Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici.

They’re trying to find out what’s working on college campuses in terms of preventing sexual assault, encouraging victims to report it, and extended support.

Senator Wyden said it’s easy to get discouraged because the number of sexual assaults seems to be going up, but that is likely because more people are reporting it.

All three of the Oregon leaders say colleges need a multi-level approach to combat the problem.

“I’m glad there’s so much attention on it now. Over the years it’s been swept away and hidden from view. It certainly has existed. We need everyone to bring this issue out into the open so we know the extent of it, we know there’s accurate reporting of it, and we know there’s a support system there for survivors,” said Congresswoman Bonamici.

Congresswoman Bonamici said she and Senator Merkley are working on legislation to better protect a sex assault victim’s privacy after they report it.