Summit aims to end sexual assault on Michigan campuses

Michigan's first lady leads a summit on campus sexual assaults at the University of Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WLNS) — While sexual assaults on campuses continue to make headlines across Michigan, a special summit was held Friday combat this issue.

The Let’s End Campus Sexual Assault Summit was held at the University of Michigan.

When it comes to sexual assault the numbers are alarming.

“The statistics are that 1 in 5 women, and 1 in 16 men will be assaulted,” said Mackenzie Javorka, a Michigan State University student.

And assaults are all too common on college campuses.

Javorka is just one of hundreds at the summit to hear what’s being done to combat the problem.

“I think getting more men involved in the movement to end campus sexual assault is really important,” Javorka said.

Rape survivor Natasha Alexenko shared her story at the summit.

She says it’s time to get sexual assault cases out of the shadows and in to the spotlight.

“As long as we’re not talking about this, people aren’t going to come forward; they’re going to be embarrassed. And perpetrators are going to use that silence to their advantage,” Alexenko said.

She believes sexual assault education should be mandatory in schools.

“I feel often times the victim is blamed. And I feel how we remove some of that mythology around rape is to really educate,” Alexenko said.

Sexual assault prevention is a key issue for Michigan’s First Lady Sue Snyder.

The governor and her daughter stood by her side as she hosted the summit, just one year after she advocated for a $500,000 dollar grant for colleges and universities to fight the problem.

“A lot of bystander intervention programs. Just really great, creative ideas,” Snyder said.

The state is offering up those grants again this year, so colleges can battle sexual assault on campus.

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