Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities come to campus

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Ali Dade

Undoubtedly, sexual assault awareness has become one of the most popular topics of discussion and change on college campuses.

College campuses have begun to obtain a reputation of being a breeding ground for sexual assault, for men and women alike.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network states that women aged 18-24 who attend college are three-times as likely to be sexually assaulted and, of those women who will be sexually assaulted while attending college, only 20% of them will report the assault to law enforcement officials.

Events and discussions centering around Sexual Assault Awareness have began to come up throughout the past semester, as the topic was held as a key one in the recent WSGA President/Vice President elections.

The hiring of Washburn’s new Victim Advocate has also sprung forward conversation and change in the right direction. Molly Steffens-Herman will serve as Washburn’s first Victim Advocate and will work directly with students who have experienced any form of crime on campus. Steffens-Herman will help these students maintain control over their situation, and will ensure that these students receive the help they deserve. Steffens-Herman officially began her position April 4th.

In addition to the introduction of Washburn’s Victim Advocate position, Washburn’s Sexual Assault Education and Prevention Coordinator, Shelley Bearman has announced a new “Active Bystander” program. This program aims to combat sexual violence on campus by training and spreading awareness of the warning signs of of sexual violence and assault.

Many events are planned throughout this month to celebrate and spread the recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month on campus.

Students can visit the main level of the Memorial Union from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 18 and 25 to help create messages of hope and support for survivors of sexual assault by making “Inspirational Pennants.” These pennants will be displayed in the Union.

There will be a table set up with information for students and staff from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 19 in the Law Library.

Steve Hageman will speaking on “Healthy Masculinity” April 19. The time and place are still to be determined.

Students, faculty and staff can show support for Sexual Assault Awareness Month by wearing denim for “Denim Day” April 26. “Denim Day” was first observed in 1999 due to an Italian Supreme Court Case where a judge overturned a rape case involving an 18-year-old woman, citing the victim’s tight jeans as cause and motivation for her sexual assault. This case caused the international campaign to prove that sexual assault does not happen to an individual based on what they were wearing when it occurred.

“The Hook Up” will take place 7 p.m. April 26 in Henderson 100. This discussion will center around gender stereotypes, hooking-up, sexual assault and bystander prevention. This program will explore research from David Lisak, clinical psychologist and forensic consultant.

Sexual assault is a preventable issue plaguing college campuses across the world. Attending events throughout the month and showing support for survivors is an important key in overcoming this issue.