Students started arriving at college for fall classes about a week before Labor Day.
About that same time, news broke that the federal government is investigating five of Utah’s 10 largest colleges and universities for the way they handled allegations of sexual violence.
Weber State University is not on the list. And perhaps that’s for a reason — the Safe@Weber program.
Under Title IX, schools must quickly investigate reports of sexual violence and harassment. Additionally, if requested, they must provide counseling, tutoring and relocation.
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is investigating complaints against Utah Valley University, Brigham Young University, the University of Utah, Westminster College and Dixie State University.
The Dixie State investigation stemmed from its handling of a sexual harassment report. At the other four schools, the complaints stemmed from sexual violence cases.
College campuses can be dangerous places, especially for newcomers. RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, reports that more than 50 percent of college sexual assaults occur between August and November.
And according to RAINN, college students face the highest risk of sexual violence during the early months of their first and second semesters.
The risk is great. Nationally, RAINN reports, 23.1 percent of undergraduate women experience sexual assault. So do 5.4 percent of undergraduate men.
Weber State addresses sexual violence through its Safe@Weber initiative, which requires all students to participate in an online sexual violence prevention and awareness course.
As part of Safe@Weber, the WSU Women’s Center also provides a number of services for assault survivors, including counseling referrals, medical treatment and legal advocacy.
But the school didn’t stop there — it built on Safe@Weber to add a sexual violence prevention program for LGBT students.
For good reason. According to RAINN, 21 percent of the nation’s transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming college students have been sexually assaulted. For non-TGQN females, it’s 18 percent. For non-TGQN males, the number is 4 percent.
When the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault honored Safe@Weber as its 2017 Partner of the Year, UCASA Executive Director Turner Bitton singled out the program’s LGBT initiatives.
"We see really high rates of violence committed against LGBT folks, so having specific programming for LGBT individuals is a huge step forward for the community," he told Anna Burleson, a reporter for the Standard-Examiner.
It’s a new semester. Take steps to protect yourself from sexual violence.
At Weber State, that means learning about Safe@Weber.