April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, therefor students and professionals on college campuses across the nation are hosting events and programs, hanging flyers, and bringing speakers to campus to raise awareness of this controversial topic. While every campus has different policies, programs, and ways of handling crisis situations, the one thing that every campus has in common is the fact that sexual assaults occur there. Which also means that every campus should be fighting to educate and raise awareness of sexual assault. This post-and probably others-is about events occurring on my own campus this month in awareness of sexual assault.
Earlier this month my campus hosted an event called Sexual Assault On Trial. This event was held in our largest lecture hall and was open to all campus and community members. Sexual Assault On Trial consisted of a panel of campus and community leaders, both students and professionals. The panel had created three scenarios that depicted different sexual assault cases. Audience members received a handout with each of the scenarios written out as well as key questions to ask when considering the specifics of that case. Each member of the panel then addressed what their role would be in handling this case.
As an audience member and student leader, I enjoyed the opportunity to see what each member of the panels role would be in handling a sexual assault case. I appreciated this because I am sick of reading news articles about yet another campus under investigation for mishandling sexual assault. Hearing the perspective of students (Resident Advisers), professionals from Housing and Residence Life, Dean of Students, Title IX, and Public Safety, as well as professionals from the local Police Department gave a unique spin on this particular topic.
This event allowed for the open dialogue of sexual assault, and having representatives from the campus and community there to contribute to the conversation was crucial. Students, professionals and community members voiced concerns, questions, and comments on the topic of sexual assault. Events like this bring awareness and visibility to the pressing issue of sexual assault, which is so very important for college campuses nationwide.
I feel comfortable in the approach that our staff takes in handling sexual assault and hope that what they presented is valid and accurate. But what I hope more is that the open dialogue that this particular event created sticks, and that sexual assault becomes a topic of conversation on my beloved campus. I hope that students and staff feel empowered to engage others in conversation and to make strides in creating a culture on campus in which sexual assault is not accepted, but awareness and reporting of it is.
I am excited to see what else my campus and others across the nation have planned for the remainder of the month.