Call to Action: Ending Campus Sexual Assault in Michigan

Gretchen Whitmer
3 min readApr 30, 2018

As a mom of two teenage girls, I know how important it is to ensure every student can get a quality education so they can get the skills they need to compete for good-paying jobs and build a life right here in Michigan. But as a former county prosecutor and a survivor of sexual assault, it’s horrifying that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are victims of sexual assault while they are college students in Michigan, and 95 percent of campus sexual assaults go unreported in the United States.

It shouldn’t have to be like this. Our students deserve better. We need a governor who can get things done right now to make our college campuses safer for everyone.

That’s why today, as Sexual Assault Awareness Month comes to a close, I’m announcing my plan to fight against sexual assaults on college campuses and create a culture of respect, decency, and accountability across Michigan.

Under my administration, the State of Michigan will:

  • Pursue a statewide campaign to advocate for “Yes means yes” and affirmative consent. The research is clear that by shifting to a culture of affirmative consent, we are creating a culture of mutual respect.
  • Convene a Sexual Violence Legislative Task Force to take stock, word for word, of Michigan’s criminal sexual conduct statutes. This will include pushing for stronger mandatory reporting laws, and making them apply to all positions of authority, like athletic coaches, professors, trainers, and administrators. We will also require college students to complete training on sexual assault prevention within their first 10 days of school.
  • Increase funding for sexual assault prevention programs across our campuses. In my first executive budget recommendation, I will propose increasing the Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program from $500,000 to $5 million to meet the unmet demand for these resources on campuses across the state.

When I was Democratic Leader in the Michigan Senate, I shared my own story of being raped as a student at Michigan State. I know how painful it feels to not know where to go for help, who to talk to, or if I’d even be believed. That’s why I’ve used my experience to be a stronger voice for victims.

As Ingham County Prosecutor, I stepped up prosecution of crimes against women, and established a new Domestic Violence Unit to go after abusers. My office also executed the first search warrants at Larry Nassar’s home, which allowed us to collect the evidence that was needed to stop his crimes and put him behind bars for 60 years.

I’m proud of this important work, but ending sexual assault on Michigan’s college campuses won’t be easy. That’s why it’s so important that we elect a governor this year who can bring people together to enact real solutions that will keep our students safe.

Should you need help now confronting these serious issues, please do not wait to get the help you need from one of these resources below:

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Gretchen Whitmer

Democratic nominee for governor in 2018. Fighter for Michigan. Former prosecutor and Senate Democratic leader. Proud mom.