Fairfield University a leader in addressing campus sexual assaults

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FAIRFIELD --  A startling statistic has been bought to light as colleges and universities are back in session.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted in college. Fairfield University is proud of their approach to this serious problem, though.

If you are a student, who is going to attend Fairfield University, the school is going to make sure you understand fully what a scourge campus sexual assaults has become.

"Before they even get here, all of our students go through an online education program introducing them to topics related to sexual violence," said Karen Donoghue, the Dean of Students.

And, once students arrive, the school engages them in a three part plan, part of which is empowering the survivor to believe that they are in the driver seat.

"And that they feel that they can report this, whether it's report through our local campus police, whether it's through the local law enforcement," said Donoghue.

Listening to their plan Tuesday was Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), who two years ago introduced legislation known as the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, which includes "measures that provide better enforcement. But also due process and a fair hearing," said Blumenthal.

While the bill has not received enough support, Blumenthal says it aims to have schools hire a campus adviser to focus on this problem "ridding the campus of an assailant, but, at the same time, preserving privacy and encouraging more reporting."

"If a school does take appropriate measures to tackle that topic, I would feel safer going to that school," said Amy McDonough, a Fairfield University sophomore.

"I feel like college campuses are pretty safe," said Christina Mavroudis, a Sacred Heart University Senior. "I feel like probably off-campus you hear a lot more of those stories."

"We want to make sure all of our students have the tools to step up and not let a sexual assault occur," said Donoghue, who noted that part of the university's education are year-long group dialogue sessions.