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Texas Tech department working to prevent sexual assault on campus

Texas Tech department working to prevent sexual assault on campus
Published: Jun. 9, 2016 at 1:02 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2016 at 1:12 AM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - It's a sexual assault case that has caused national conversation and growing frustration.

Former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner was convicted on three counts of felony sexual assault, but this week a judge sentenced him to just six months in jail and three years of probation.

A powerful statement from the victim has created discussion even right here in Lubbock on how communities can work to change this "rape culture".

A special department at Texas Tech is committed to keeping students safe and healthy.

The department is called RISE, which stands for Risk Intervention and Safety Education. It's located on the second floor of the Student Wellness Center.

RISE helps to educate students on topics ranging from alcohol abuse, to violence and sexual assaults.

"We're essentially responsible for prevention and wellness efforts on campus, so we do anything that might impact a college student's experience outside the classroom," RISE director Kimberly Simon said.

Kimberly also works as a RISE support coordinator for student victims of sexual assault, helping them find the right resources for the long term effects - letting the student know they have someone on campus looking out for their best interest.

"Support coordinators really get to say to a student, what do you need? What do you need today, what do you need five days from now? What do you need to be successful in the classroom? What do you need to feel safe on campus?"

Kimberly says RISE works to get the conversation of sexual assault prevention started from the day a new student steps foot on campus with new seminars at orientation.

"We do a lot of bystander intervention, so if a student sees something that doesn't feel right and they don't know how to help a friend either before or after something has happened, we train students to know where are resources on campus, what could I send a friend to?" Kimberly said. "We don't watch something happen and walk by, we ask questions, we take care of one another."

Voice of Hope Rape Crisis Center in Lubbock works to spread that message off campus.

"We need to concentrate on telling people it's not ok to touch somebody without their consent," community educator and volunteer coordinator Leslie Timmons said. "We need to teach our children that it's not ok to hurt somebody, it's not ok to violate somebody."

As RISE continues to grow on campus, Kimberly says they hope more students will come to them and feel empowered to reach out when they need help.

"It's incredibly rewarding we'll have students who call us and say I felt like I wasn't alone and to me that's why we do what we do."

Texas Tech has a 24 hour, 7 days a week Crisis Help Line, where students will be connected with a licensed mental health counselor.

The number is (806) 742-5555. That number will also be on the back of student ID's.

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