Local colleges react to Trump's comments - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Local colleges react to Trump's comments

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Students at Connecticut colleges reacted to Donald Trump's comments. (WFSB file photo) Students at Connecticut colleges reacted to Donald Trump's comments. (WFSB file photo)

Colleges working to stop sexual violence on campus reacted to Donald Trump’s comments regarding women.

Many said they worry Trumps comments will set back their efforts.

At Connecticut College in New London, leaders advocate a community approach to stopping sexual assault.

Students told Eyewitness News they're not just concerned about what Trump was recorded saying about women, but the way he dismissed it.

"It produces a conversation that we have to have, because if someone in that position of power is able to make those comments in 2016, then there's a lot that we still have to do and a lot we still have to talk about because that's just not OK,” Connecticut College junior McKenzie Griffith Potter said.

Students are holding a discussion Thursday afternoon to talk about Trump's comments and solutions for the future on campus.

Campus leaders said the last time they held a last minute discussion like the was during football player Ray Rice's domestic violence case.

"I was very frustrated," Potter said,

Potter said she's part of the sexual violence prevention team at Connecticut College. She said Trump's comments over the weekend fly in the face of what they teach.

"We here at Connecticut college work really hard about acknowledging that sexual assault is a problem, and comments like that and peoples mindsets like that are a problem," she said.

The U.S. government estimated that one in five women has been sexually assaulted while in college.

That's why it's stepped up efforts on prevention in recent years, with more than 200 schools under sexual violence investigation.

Part of the program for students in New London includes speaking up if they hear a man boasting of sexual aggression against women.

"When you start calling someone aggressive names like that or making light of sexual assault, that matters," said Bridget Horan, a senior. "That means something to our community because words become action."

It's called the Green Dot Bystander Intervention Program. It encourages students to view stopping violence as a collective responsibility.

"The narrative for so long has been around how to prevent violence by talking to a potential victim and a potential perpetrator," said Darcie Folsom, director of sexual violence prevention. "And in reality there are so many other people who can be part of that story, and that's where bystander intervention is so useful."

The students, however, said it's not just want Trump was caught saying about women on tape. It's how he dismissed it.

Greg Liautaud, a senior, said he's been part of the hockey team for all four of his years at Connecticut College. He said there's a difference between "locker room talk" and bragging about sexual assault.

"I think there's that line, and he went so far past it," he said. "And then when he says 'locker room talk' he kind of puts everything on athletes, kind of making it seem like everybody does that, when it's not really a thing."

Liautaud and other students said that while the incident is discouraging, the conversation gives them hope.

"Our whole goal here is to shift culture, so I think it's a pretty good place to start," Liautaud said.

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