U. of Iowa's Sally Mason shares own sexual assault story - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

U. of Iowa's Sally Mason shares own sexual assault story

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - The ongoing debate on how best to prevent and deal with sexual assaults heard a surprising new perspective in Iowa City.

University of Iowa President Sally Mason revealed she had been a victim of sexual assault in 1970 while a college student, telling the crowd she had no idea what to do after the incident.

"I was walking down the street one afternoon, going to class, minding my own business and an individual in a trench coat came up to me, grabbed hold of me, grabbed my breast, and I was fortunate that I was able to pull away from him," said Mason.

Mason shared her personal story with a crowd of around 200 in a bid to show them she takes sexual assault seriously after several students were offended by recent comments she made.

"I believe in Iowa City and the university," one female student said. "I believe that our community can come together and create a safe and supportive environment that has clear policy around this issue."

To prevent assaults from happening on campus, the university requires students take an online course on the topic and makes information about preventing assaults available on the university's website.

Students told KWWL, however, that the online class is a joke and the sexual assault web page is hard to find.

"I think if they can teach the bystander awareness on a physical, hand-to-hand basis with the students, you're going to see a lot better results," said Michael Nauman, a junior at the University of Iowa.

"We developed a new website, but I'm not sure that we told anyone that we developed a new website, and part of that is just the nature of the work," said Monique DiCarlo, UI Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator. "But I think that we can do better, and we will do better."

Students also claimed it's hard to get a ride on the university's night ride service, which is supposed to be a safe option just for women.

University officials will use feedback from this session to evaluate campus policies.

Students KWWL spoke to said they were glad to hear the university was listening to their concerns, but they say actions speak louder than words and hope officials follow up with the campus community in the near future to explain any policy changes.

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