Iowa City, Iowa -- Maj. Gen. Paul M. Benenati, First Army deputy commanding general for support, educated students about sexual assault at the Y Factor Campus and Community Summit on Sexual Assault Prevention at the University of Iowa here on April 22.
"We are trying to get after the problem," said Benenati. "We have a long way to go. We have got to find a way to change the culture. This is only successful if we take a system-wide approach."
Between 150-250 University of Iowa students, ROTC cadets, faculty and staff attended the collaborative all-day National Sexual Assault Awareness Month event, which included small breakout sessions to educate and encourage more conversation about this sensitive topic.
Laci Green, an online blogger who is an advocate for sexual awareness and sexual assault prevention, also spoke at the summit.
"There is a lot of stuff that has been in national conversation right now," said Green. "That's not because we are having this huge increase in sexual assault. It's because people are finally starting to talk about it. Which is great."
Both Benenati and Green stated that we may never completely eradicate sexual assault, but we can work to make it less prevalent.
Lt. Col. Joe Albrecht, Professor of Military Science, University of Iowa 3rd Brigade, United States Army Cadet Command, expressed how important it is for everyone to work together and inform others to lessen the numbers of sexual assault.
"It's on us to empower each other and take the power away from those who commit these crimes. That includes civilians, students and military as well," said Albrecht.
Benenati informed the audience of statistics, programs and culture in regard to the military and how there is significant change.
"This is an extremely important topic," said Benenati. "Hopefully, today I can share some observations of what we are doing in the military to get after what is a totally unacceptable level of sexual assault within our organizations."
The premiere of the "It's On Us" Public Service Announcement was viewed during the summit. Many different representatives of the student body were seen in the PSA stating the importance for all of us to take responsibility and that if a person sees something -- do something.
Benenati informed the audience that it is important they understand the power each person has to make it less prevalent; that he or she will be supported and know that sexual assault is not tolerated.
"Statistics show that several people in this room have likely been raped. Both male and female. And that many have not reported it. These are crimes which violate a person in devastating ways with long term psychological effects. And if that happened to you… It was not your fault," Benenati said. "I want you to please watch each other. Your care is truly the number one concern. This is a tough topic. But this is a discussion we must have if we are going to get after this problem."