UK president's national TV appearance highlights campus efforts to prevent sexual assaults

jbrammer@herald-leader.comMay 18, 2014 

UK President Eli Capilouto

PHOTO PROVIDED

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto shared details Sunday with a nationwide TV audience about UK's fight against sexual assaults on campus.

"It's a priority for us," Capilouto said during an interview on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Capilouto appeared with Time magazine journalist Eliza Gray, who wrote the current cover story, "Rape: The Crisis in Higher Education."

UK's efforts to prevent sexual assaults have been held up as a model by the White House and others. A White House task force this year found that one in every five female college students had been assaulted.

Capilouto said on This Week that UK started tackling the problem about 10 years ago with a campuswide survey on the issue. Vice President Joe Biden has called on all schools to conduct such campus surveys to gauge the prevalence of sexual assaults.

"First of all, you have to recognize the problem," Capilouto said.

After the survey, UK set up intervention programs to spread the responsibility for campus safety "to the entire community — our students, our faculty, our staff, police force, others that you have to partner with in the community to make a difference," he said.

Then, all of UK's efforts were reassessed to see how effective the programs were, Capilouto said.

He specifically mentioned UK's "Green Dot program." Capilouto compared it to using a designated driver in drinking situations.

The program trains college students, particularly those in leadership, to recognize "risky situations, intervene and do it in a creative way," Capilouto said.

More than 5,000 students have been trained in the program, he said.

Gray said the nation was "at a historic moment for this issue" because students and college campuses and the White House are focusing on it.

"I do think that you are going to see a spotlight put on this issue that may create a little more pressure on colleges to make a change," she said.

But Cathy Harris, an activist on campus assaults, told ABC News that too many times the nation gets upset about the issue and then it is forgotten.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.

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