AUSTIN (KXAN) — In addition to setting up class schedules, incoming freshman at the University of Texas will be given more information on sexual assault prevention during orientation. A new law requires all colleges and universities in the state provide students with that information.

UT Austin has been educating freshman on these issues for years, but are stepping up their efforts in 2016.

They’ll be following students during their four years on campus, keeping track of their experiences dealing with sexual violence. With the study they hope to learn whether their efforts are working, and to find out what they can do better to stop sexual violence.

“Colleges and universities turn a blind eye to sexual violence on campus, so it’s really good to know that the University of Texas is taking that initiative to get that information out there,” said freshman, Michelle Lacey. “Really the only info I know now is common sense, calling 911, that kind of stuff.”

“We’re having real conversations. What consent means, what consent looks like, creating a consent culture at UT Austin,” said Erin Burrows, the prevention and outreach specialist at Voices Against Violence. “We’re constantly reaching out to incoming freshman to make sure that they also know what resources are available on campus.”

GOING IN-DEPTH // Sex Assault Numbers

  • The federal government requires all universities, including UT, to report any sexual assaults on campus. And even though there have been more cases over the last few years, officials say they don’t often reflect reality.
  • UT’s annual security report shows there were two cases in 2011, but by 2013 there were eight cases out of a student population of more than 50,000 people.
  • However, the US Department of Justice found a recent study shows one in five women will be sexually assaulted in college.

An interactive play during orientation will give students updated information regarding sex assaults on campus and how each student can prevent them.

The university’s annual security report showed the number of assaults on campus has doubled every year since 2011. The campus says the number of incidents has not necessarily gone up, instead, more students are now reaching out to support groups and reporting the crimes to authorities.

“Be vocal is our bystander intervention initiative,” said Burrows. “That’s empowering individual students to take action should they recognize any harm happening on campus.”

Knowing that the campus cares about their safety helps give students and parents a peace of mind.

“To reinforce the cultural norm that sexual violence is not tolerated here and that we do have resources for recourse, justice and healing,” said Burrows

The mandatory changes to provide information and resources come from a bill signed by Gov. Greg Abbott requiring campuses to establish a policy on sexual assaults.