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Last modified: Friday, September 11, 2009

IU, community agencies partner to form Sexual Assault Response Team

Sept. 11, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The poster shows a series of falling dominoes. The tagline -- "Got Consent? Ask." -- is part of a new campaign intended to educate college students about the meaning of sexual consent, emphasizing the message that "only yes means yes."

In an effort to make students more aware of what constitutes sexual assault and how to report it, Indiana University has partnered with several community organizations to form a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). Participating organizations include the Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney's office, local law enforcement, Bloomington Hospital and Monroe Hospitals and Middle Way House.

The new initiative was announced in late August at a press conference attended by IU Provost Karen Hanson and Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal, among others. "It is important that victims be empowered to decide whether or not they want to report," Gaal said. "Often they need time to talk to friends, family and counselors in order to make that decision and come forward. In the meantime, we want to keep the door open by ensuring that the best available evidence is collected, documented and preserved."

SART members will take part in a free training session organized by the Bloomington Prosecutor's Office, Sept. 22, at Council Chambers, City Hall in the Showers Building from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The training will review the protocol and will include a panel discussion with representatives from the IU Police Department Bloomington, Monroe County Sheriff's Department and the Indiana State Police.

"Federal statistics show that women in college are more at risk to be sexually assaulted than at any other time in their lives," said Debbie Melloan of the IU Sexual Assault Crisis Service. "Education is extremely important to cause change. Sex without consent is a crime, and there can be serious consequences."

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