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Federal, UI Sexual Assault Plans Match Up

IOWA CITY, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) -- The University of Iowa is figuring out how to move forward with new federal guidance and accountability measures regarding sexual, after President Obama outlined an initiative from a federal task force aimed at curbing the crime on campuses nationwide.

Earlier this year, UI President Sally Mason unveiled a six-point plan to end sexual assault on campus, and on Wednesday, university officials said Obama's plan seems to fit in very well with what UI is already doing -- things like increasing support for survivors and making it easier to report a crime.

"It was an explosion on campus," that spurred Mason to listen to student demands and create more help for sexual assault survivors, said incoming Feminist Union president Sophie Katz.

The federal plan gives her hope that more universities will see the same changes, thanks to the national conversation.

"I can only hope that this will encourage more people to step up, because if the norm becomes stepping up and demanding retribution, I believe that's what will create a positive change," Katz said.

"Well, I've been doing this work for a long time, so I honestly never thought that I would click on the White House website and see a public service announcement that the President and Vice President are participating in," said sexual misconduct response coordinator Monique DiCarlo.

The university works with the Department of Justice, DiCarlo said, and was asked about the unique resources Iowa has, including the Rape Victim Advocacy Center. It is one of the only university-staffed victim advocacy programs in the country.

DiCarlo does not know if that information was used for the president's plan, but she's looking forward to the increased accountability from the federal government.

"I think we'll get stronger, that our prevention methods will become more affective," she said.

Those in the community want the president to work toward ending sexual assault for all people, not just students.

"It's not just on college campuses," said Victoria Watson, a member of Radical Organizing Against Rape. "It is a really big community for a lot of women, and we are constantly being overlooked because it's not something that's overseen by this institution."

Part of the federal recommendations include creating a treatment program for campus offenders who aren't being expelled or suspended. DiCarlo is waiting to hear back about a pilot program that would provide federal dollars to create that rehabilitation and education program at UI.
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