As college freshmen head off to school this month, many will sit through speeches and click through online presentations about one important topic: sexual assault on campus. It will be the first and last time some students learn about harassment or hear how their school defines consent. But it shouldn't be. Before students head to class this fall, universities must assess whether the sexual-assault prevention programs in place are enough.

The evidence suggests they can do much more. A report last September by the Association of American Universities showed that almost a quarter of college-age women have been sexually assaulted. Rates are even higher for transgender students and others who identify as neither male nor female.

But more than half the students surveyed weren't sure where to report an incident or get help, and about two-thirds weren't sure how their university defined sexual assault or misconduct in the first place. While colleges across the country search for the proper steps to take in response to allegations of sexual assaults, taking a proactive approach to preventing them must remain a priority.

With the AAU results in mind, colleges should survey their own students and respond accordingly. They may reference the American College Health Association's new guidelines for combating sexual assault on college campuses - released just weeks after Stanford swimmer Brock Turner received his shamefully short jail sentence for raping an unconscious woman.

"Among these guidelines, institutions should consider some key principles when developing and providing prevention education," Mary Wyandt-Hiebert, who co-chaired the task force that wrote the report, told the Inquirer Editorial Board. "Such programs should be trauma-informed, evidence-based, and culturally sensitive with respect to the specific population being addressed."

Among other suggestions, the ACHA recommends that colleges incorporate strategies for bystanders into sexual-assault training, and to make this training "ongoing, multi-dose, and comprehensive" - not just once at freshman orientation.

The CDC has identified RealConsent, a series of online modules that educate college men on rape, consent, and gender norms, as an effective option for reducing sexual violence and increasing bystander intervention on campus. Other bystander intervention programs have been deemed promising. Conducting bystander training with athletic teams, fraternities and sororities, and other social groups on campus is one proactive approach to combating assault.

Local colleges have taken the first steps to educate students. Since last fall, Temple students have been required to take annual sexual-misconduct training. Drexel deemed April Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In January, Gov. Wolf announced the "It's On Us PA" campaign, an offshoot of the national campaign to combat sexual violence on campuses.

It's up to each college administration to determine how it can lessen the instance of sexual assault and misconduct on its campus. Students flooding back to their schools this month depend on them.