By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Monday is move-in day for 5,800 freshman at the University of Minnesota, and as part of a new state law, all of them have undergone mandatory sexual assault training.

In fact, all new college students in the state of Minnesota are now required to learn about campus sexual assault in the first ten days of the school year, as the law went into effect on Aug. 1. Minnesota is one of the first states in the nation to make the training mandatory.

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As U of M freshmen moved into their dorms Monday, they’re also entering a time when they are the most vulnerable to sexual assault.

Kathryn Nash is an attorney for Gray Plant Mooty — a Twin Cities law firm that provides video training used by many Minnesota colleges and universities.

“There is a period of time known as ‘the red zone,'” she said. “It’s between the start of the school and Thanksgiving, and statistically speaking it’s the time of the year when the greatest number of sexual assaults occur.”

In 75 percent of sexual assaults on campus, alcohol is a factor, and the training emphasize that. Students also learn who might commit an assault.

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“There has been a backlash with respondents saying, ‘We have not gotten a fair shake in this, we are being falsely accused,'” Nash said. “And so we’re giving some advice on what you could do to make sure you are not falsely accused, or you are not accused of sexual assault.”

All incoming freshman at the University of Minnesota — like Uma Venkata — have already completed the first part of an online training course. Venkata said she thought it was a great idea that the course was required.

“I didn’t know that most of the assaults occur within six weeks of moving into freshman year,” she said.

Her mother, Mary Slater, agrees.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Slater said. “I think they’re very glad they’re doing it.”

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The new law also requires that for the first time Minnesota colleges make public the number of sexual assaults reported on their campuses.

Esme Murphy