Sexual assault task force releases data, recommendations for safer campuses

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A New Jersey task force on sexual assault on college campuses released a report Monday with new recommendations for how to protect students.

The group recommends that every college in the state should conduct regular surveys to learn about the prevalence of sexual assault on campus. They also suggest beginning sexual violence education as early as middle school. 

The task force says that about 1 in 5 women are assaulted while on college campuses. The assaults are happening mostly to freshmen, according to the American Association of Universities.

“As a mother of two daughters and as a legislator I am horrified by these numbers,” says Assemblywoman Valerie Huddle.

The task force found no evidence that banning alcohol on campus would stop violence, instead pointing to ingrained behaviors and unacceptable cultural norms as a culprit.

“There’s no excuse,” Huddle says. “Alcohol doesn’t rape. Clothes don’t rape. That’s important.”

Some New Jersey teenagers who are about to enter their freshman year at college tell News 12 New Jersey that more education could help.

“Consent is really a big thing that I think a lot of us are still trying to understand,” says Mahima Kakami, who is about to attend NYU. “I think that education on consent has to develop a little bit more.”

“I feel like I have enough knowledge and maturity to protect myself. It’s just other people I’m worried about,” says soon-to-be Rutgers student Larissa Wojtenko.

The 12-person task force panel spent a year holding meetings on its recommendations. The panel says that it will continue working with college campuses to improve campus safety.

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