PSU praised for sex assault survivor efforts

Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley and Suzanne Bonamici listened to employees and students at PSU

Lawmakers spoke with students about sexual assault at the PSU campus on Tuesday. October 18, 2016, (KOIN)
Lawmakers spoke with students about sexual assault at the PSU campus on Tuesday. October 18, 2016, (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For more than an hour, US Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and US Rep. Suzanne Bonamici listened to employees and students at PSU about the issue of sexual assault.

Each took the time to praise the work PSU has recently done in standing up for sexual assault survivors.

PSU’s program, Illuminate, promotes healthy relationship and sexuality. It also has a public safety office that focuses on trust, a Women’s Resource Center advocating for survivors and campus investigators trained in trauma-informed interviewing techniques.

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

Oregon senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden sit next to US Rep. Suzanne Bonamici at a PSU event about the issue of campus sexual assaults, October 18, 2016 (KOIN)
Oregon senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden sit next to US Rep. Suzanne Bonamici at a PSU event about the issue of campus sexual assaults, October 18, 2016 (KOIN)

Jule Caron, who is the Title IX coordinator for PSU, said their first goal was to hear from Wyden, Merkley and Bonamici what they were working on.

“Then our other goal is for them to hear what work PSU’s doing on our campus,” she said.

One of the targets of Tuesday’s meeting was to make sure sex assault survivors feel comfortable coming forward.

Wyden said progress is being made and cited 2015 statistics that showed an increase in the number of reported sex assaults. That doesn’t mean the problem is worse, but means more victims are willing to come forward.

“We have a bottom line goal here,” Wyden said, “and that is zero tolerance for sexual assault on our campuses.”

Merkley said PSU will “continue working in order to provide the best possible ideas to share with colleges around the nation.”