ST. CLOUD -- More than 250 representatives from over 60 college campuses around the state are coming together in St. Cloud to help prevent sexual assault on campus.

The 2017 Minnesota Campus Sexual Violence Prevention Summit is underway at St. Cloud State University. The conference began Tuesday morning and will run through Wednesday. The event features key-note speakers and sexual assault violence prevention workshops.

Lee LaDue is an organizer for the summit as well as the coordinator of the Gender Violence Prevention Program at the SCSU Women's Center. She says Ramsey County Attorney John Choi will be their key-note speaker Wednesday morning.

"He's going to talk about how to you bring coalitions together between campus and community."

LaDue says communication between community groups and campus groups is one the primary ways colleges are trying to prevent sexual violence.

The summit will also feature several classroom sessions. LaDue says each of 36 workshops will have its own individual focus.

"Each afternoon has smaller workshops, on a variety of topics on primary prevention, on adjudicating these cases. Last year, when we did our first one [summit] the law had just passed that Rep. O'Neill had worked on. It was part of the Omnibus Crime Bill that really put into place some things in Minnesota that campuses need to do. We kind of did a focus on how do we know we are in compliance with that law, doing the right things and best practices."

Representative Marion O'Neill says the whole point of the conference is to make staff and students more informed.

"So if something happens to them [a student] they know exactly where to go and who to speak to and if they want to go to law enforcement they can."

O'Neill says there is an understanding between each institution and local law enforcement on how to cover the campus and handle sexual assault cases.

Beginning in 1992, St. Cloud State was the first campus in the United States to require all new students to take a sexual violence prevention workshop. LeDue says the workshop has changed over the years. In the 1990s it was done in a lecture hall with as many as 600 students attending but today it is individualized and taken online by new students prior to registering for classes.

(Chrissy Gaetke, WJON)
(Chrissy Gaetke, WJON)

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