May 1, 2014 1:08 AM by Maddie Garrett

UCCS Tackles Sexual Assaults with "Take Back the Night" Event

On the heels of a new mandate from the White House on how colleges should minimize and address sexual assaults, University of Colorado Colorado Springs is taking matters into its own hands to tackle the issue. Wednesday night was the annual "Take Back the Night" event, that gets students involved in making their campus safer.

The focus of the meeting and march wasn't just on survivors of sexual assault, but prevention and getting all students involved in being more aware and knowing how to tackle the very serious crime.

"It's exciting I just love seeing the energy and just students coming together, I just yeah, I love it," said Carrie Baatz, Program Coordinator for Respect on Campus.

Baatz walked along with a group of students, chanting loudly down the main walkway of UCCS Wednesday night. Their voices were heard loud and clear, saying they were "taking a stand" and "taking back the night."

"I think it just connects people to an issue that is so often taboo and so often stigmatized," said Baatz as she walked.

The issue is sexual assaults and college students.

"Our campaign on campus is to encourage students to report to confidential sources but also potentially to come forward and report to law enforcement," said UCCS professor Dr. Catherine Kaukinen.

While UCCS has a very low number of reported rapes, with none last year, that doesn't mean they aren't happening to both men and women here. It's not just at UCCS, that's the case for universities across the country.

"It's a large volume of hidden sexual violence and that's probably the most concerning thing for most people is we want to get to those victims and help them how they need to be helped," said Kaukinen.

Part of those efforts is the "Take Back the Night" event, which let's students know how and when sexual assaults can occur, how to get help and most importantly that a victim is never to blame.

"We need people to understand, the more people understand, the more people know, the more people can prevent this," said therapist Erica Laui.

UCCS has several programs on campus to address not only sexual assaults, but all types of violence at the university. Some of those organizations were in action at Wednesday night's event, including the group Respect on Campus and SAVE, which stands for Students Against Violence Everywhere.



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