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UI Dept. Holds Community Summit On Sexual Assualt

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX 28)--April is sexual assault awareness month, but the crime has been the subject of many conversations, meetings and even protests in the past few weeks on the university of Iowa campus.

Earlier this week, a student was suspended for sexual misconduct.

It was the first time president sally mason's new zero-tolerance plan was applied.

Today the University of Iowa's Department of Communication Studies held a community summit on the issue.

The goal was to raise awareness about rape culture.

Many people at today's summit brought up the same point.

One of the reasons rape culture exists is because society doesn't like to talk about sex, in its various forms.

They say it's a vital discussion that can help establish perimeters.

"Nearly one in two women has experienced violence other than rape in their lifetime."

The stats are chilling.

"27 percent of male victims of completed rape were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger," said Karla Miller, Executive Director of Rape Victim Advocacy Program.

Those numbers are also why folks from the University of Iowa's Department of Communications Studies organized this summit.

"As a lot of us know there's been a lot of issues locally and recently on sexual assault. Both at the university and outside of it and so we wanted to make a difference on that issue," said Walid Afifie, Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Studies at the University.

Dozens of community members and leaders came out among them, Joy Beadleston, a survivor of sexual assault.

"It happens to anybody. It doesn't matter how old you are, how young you are, how beautiful you are" she said.

Joy says it all began when a neighbor asked her to let him know about job openings in her workplace.

"He kept continually insisting that I come in and wouldn't come in so and he said just wait here I have to show you something. He came back and he didn't have anything on," she said.

She says while she was able to get away and alert police, the experience and reaction from friends scared her.

"There were a lot of really detrimental things that were said to me that I didn't expect."

That "blame the victim" mentally is what many here say must end.

People need to understand that it does take all of us within the community to get some traction on this," said Georgina Dodge, Chief Diversity Officer at UI.

That's what discussions like this are for: letting the community know that they too can spark change.

The event featured six speakers including university of Iowa's Chief Diversity Officer, as well as a question and answer session from the community.


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