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Four top University officials released a statement this month condemning sexual violence on campus as part of a new campaign to combat acquaintance rape at the University. Vice Provost for University Life Kim Morrisson - who signed the statement with President Sheldon Hackney, Provost Michael Aiken and Senior Vice President Marna Whittington - said this week that one of the reasons that date and acquaintance rape are a continuing problem on college campuses is that students are unaware of the problem. "It is intended in part to get the word out and in part [to show] as leaders of this institution that we're aware that it is an issue that students must understand and one we want to deal with and want to confront," she said. According to statistics released by the Penn Women's Center and the Office of Victim Support Services, the number of reported acquaintance rapes on campus jumped from seven in academic year 1987-88 to 12 in 1988-89 to at least 20 last year. In April, leaders of Students Together Against Acquaintance Rape met with Hackney after chiding the administration for its lack of leadership in combatting sexual violence. Hackney could not be reached for comment Sunday, but Assistant to the President William Epstein said this week that although the administration has continually tried to combat the problem, the statement is part of a new effort to be instituted this year. He said that STAAR has played an important role in formulating and implementing the new effort, which includes information pamphlets and key chains with phone numbers and a new logo for the programs, an old-fashioned key. The old-fashioned key "represents the unlocking of the issue of acquaintance rape," the statement reads. STAAR Executive Board member April O'Malley said last night that she felt the statement and the other new efforts are "a step in the right direction." O'Malley added that since her group met with Hackney, officials have been much more responsive to the issue of sexual violence. "We are looking forward to working with the administration," the College junior said. "They are much more aware now of the problem and I think they are looking to help us out." O'Malley said that STAAR plans to meet with Whittington and Hackney in the near future to coordinate other projects. National studies have shown that one in six college women reported being a victim of rape or attempted rape in the past year and one in 15 male students admitted committing or attempting rape, according to the statement.

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