Universities working to prevent sexual assaults on campus

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Mid-South students are heading back to college, but with national statistics showing 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted, universities are making changes.

Classes started Monday for the University of Memphis.

U of M student Amber Johnson said she feels safe on campus because the school keeps her informed.

Students told WREG that alerts are one of the biggest tools U of M uses to let them know about suspicious people on campus.

"Whenever something happens on campus, they send Tiger alerts," Johnson said.

"The police chief came and talked with the football team about sending out safety alerts and what not," student Tearris Wallace added. "So I feel that's a big help for everybody if you're signed up for them."

But that is not all. One of the many security features U of M has in places are emergency poles. So, if students are in trouble, help is only a button push away.

New federal laws require universities to provide ongoing counseling and training to students and staff about sexual assault prevention and how to help someone else who may be in trouble.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reported two sexual assaults on U of M's campus and 17 at Rhodes College last school year.

Students, like Johnson, said those statistics scare them.

"It does make me nervous," she said. "It makes me feel like I need to find something to protect myself with."

But it also pushes them to be alert and proactive.

"You have to be really aware of your surroundings. If not, someone can walk up and just snatch you," Johnson said.

U of M officials could not meet with WREG on Monday, but said orientation, including counseling about sexual assault prevention, is already underway.

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