Ohio University adds more security on campus to address sexual assaults

(WBNS-10TV)
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When Ohio University students stop looking at their phones while walking across campus, they'll notice large banners along light poles teaching them about how to be a good bystander.

The banners are just part of a larger campaign to help bring awareness to sexual assault on campus and where students can get information if they become a victim or know someone who has.

"I think it's a good thing to have because there are a lot of survivors on campus and it's a good thing to let them know they are not alone, " says Freshman Riley Denny of Columbus.

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The banners provide phone numbers and how to be a better bystander by telling students to be direct, delegate, distract and delay.

There is also this phone app called Bobcat Safe. It allows students to have their friends follow them virtually.

"I actually downloaded the app because my cousin saw it on Twitter and I think it's an excellent way for your friends to track you and I think it's awesome," she said.

Since its launch on August 19, the university says more than 1,200 people have downloaded the app.

Student President Lydia Ramlo helped create the app which also allows students to text a police officer.

"We need to stand up for all the survivors and for people who are thinking about OU to let them know that they are safe or have the tools to feel safer, " she said.

There's more. Twenty-thousand coffee sleeves are on all cups on campus, paid for by the police department, that say "We need your help stop sexual assault."

The university also spent more than a million dollars on security cameras inside and out of residence halls.

OU is also warning students about what's called the Red Zone, it refers to statistics that show that most sexual assaults occur during the first months of the fall semester, Ohio University received 12 sexual assault reports last year, the year prior there was 28.

Kimberly Castor is the Director of the Survival Advocacy Program at Ohio University.

"College-age students are most at risk for sexual assault. Perhaps because they are living alone for the first time, maybe experimenting with sex for the first time, alcohol for the first time. We don't want to be a University with zero reporting of sexual assaults. That's a problem because that means we haven't created a system where survivors feel comfortable coming forward," she said.