Federal investigators interviewing UR students about sexual assaults

Posted at 7:46 PM, Mar 31, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-31 19:46:28-04

HENRICO, Va. -- Federal investigators are at the University of Richmond talking with students about sex assaults, as part of a Title 9 investigation which involves a long list of schools.

"I would say that I do feel safe on campus," said Caroline Smith, a junior.

The Department of Education is visiting 94 college campuses  over concerns that sexual assault cases may have been mishandled. Smith said, that like many students, she's aware the federal agents are on campus and that the school is making strides in sexual assault education.

"I think they are trying really hard to make sure all the information about sexual assault awareness is out there on campus," she said.

Hayley Durudogan may be a freshman, but she is tackling the issue with a "Spiders for Spiders" campaign that has taken off among students.

"This is truly something that affects everyone," Durudogan said. "Statistically, it's one in four women and one in six men.  It would be impossible for you not to know someone affected by this incredible pernicious phenomenon."

"When people tell me that it's not a big deal, I'm always like, well you're just not paying attention" she added.

Beth Curry, coordinator for Sexual Misconduct Education and Advocacy on campus said that many students are taking the information being provided seriously and that programs already this year have been met with student approval. "It's definitely important that young men and women realize the issue is out there."

"It's definitely important that young men and women realize the issue is out there," Curry said.

From 2011 through 2013 there were 31 reported sexual offenses on the UR campus.

Many students said they feel safe on campus, and called it the "UR bubble" but sophomore Hayley Gray-Hoehn said the issue is real, and a problem on college campuses across the country.

"I tend to think it's more systemic than people realize and that there's a culture, especially with certain male-dominated groups on campus, that expects young women to dress and act a certain way in order to seek social approval," Gray-Hoehn said.

"We've had a lot of men's engagement in the movement as well, which is important and really exciting in terms of creating cultural change," Curry said.

Three other Virginia schools are on the Department of Education's list; the College of William and Mary, James Madison University and the Virginia Military Institute.