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UO heads into school year with improved sexual violence resources

EUGENE, Ore. - The University of Oregon came under fire last year for the way it handled sexual assault allegations. But since then, university officials said they have made strides in prevention and education.

University officials said the last 16 months have been a time of assessment and action for the University of Oregon. The school has taken the time to focus on putting an end to sexual violence on campus.

On September 28, classes will begin at the U of O. More than 4,000 new freshmen will walk campus for the first time and thousands more will return for another year.

The University of Oregon said it's made sexual violence resources readily available and accessible for students.

"This is the thing that I love about young people and the thing that can be a little bit frustrating. A lot of times students don't think about what they need until they actually need it. So we want to do our best to get as much information out for our students as possible," said Robin Holmes, Vice President of Student Life.

Holmes said the university considered more than 100 recommendations by sexual assault committees, task forces, staff, and students in the last year.

In response, the university will be adding two Title 9 coordinators who will focus on civil rights. They will also hire a prevention specialist and affirmative action investigator.

"So when a report does come in, we want to be able to respond to those reports as quickly as we possibly can, a comprehensive approach," she said.

A survey published by Oregon psychology professor Jennifer Freyd found that half of female students polled did not know about available resources on campus.

Kerry Frazee, director of sexual violence prevention, said the bottom line is education and awareness.

"They're wanting to know the basics. They're wanting to know what consent is. How can they talk about this to their friends? How can they raise awareness?" Frazee said.

Frazee said several prevention programs have been added, including online tools like alcohol E.D.U. and having peer education in student dorms and in Greek life and athletics.

"At the end of the day, it's about a community, about all of us so making sure that this is a type of community that we all want to be a part of," Holmes said.

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