- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) - Student leaders at Southern Illinois University formed a new task force aiming to prevent incidents of sexual assault and street violence.

The student task force was announced Tuesday in response to a seven-day period in which eight SIU students were arrested in three separate incidents, including two sexual assault cases and one fight. It follows the national “It’s On Us” initiative that encourages college students to recognize their rights and responsibilities not only on campus, but also in the community, The Southern Illinoisan (https://bit.ly/1tZr3Ly ) reported.

The SIU campaign will focus mainly on the campus’ culture in regard to women and violence.

“In the end, there has to be a change in our culture in how we treat and view women,” said Adrian Miller, a student representative on the university’s Board of Trustees. “The only way to do this is to see a cultural change in the community, the citizens of Carbondale and the student body.”

The task force will use a grassroots approach to spread its mission, according to Cameron Shulak, the president of SIU’s Undergraduate Student Government.

“This task force approach will allow us to cover all sources of input and opinion on campus,” Shulak said. “A 360-degree approach, starting with students and continuing up through administration and the different departments on campus.”

The SIU student leaders ultimately hope to inspire everyone on campus to actively prevent violence and sexual assault.

The task force plans to hold public meetings so students can ask questions and share ideas, as well as open a new resource center.

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