Sexual Assault Awareness MonthApril 11, 2008
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and reading about Take Back the Night rallies and Clothesline projects occurring around the country reminds me of an empowering experience I had as a student.
After attending an emotional Take Back the Night rally, a friend and I wondered what resources were available on our campus regarding sexual assault and, if there were any, whether students knew about them. After a thorough search, we finally found a paragraph in a thick manual given to new students and thought, “Would a traumatized student think to look there?”
We wanted to find out how others felt, so we created and disseminated surveys to students on campus. A sociology professor helped us analyze the 400 responses. We found that the longer one was a student, the more likely one was to have been or know someone who was sexually assaulted, yet very few people in any grade knew what to do or what resources were available to them on campus. Almost all students said resources should be better publicized.
With our results in hand, we successfully presented suggestions to the dean of student life. Now, informational pamphlets are stocked in every bathroom on campus and places like the health center, and every student is given a magnet with phone numbers for emergencies like sexual assault and alcohol poisoning. I was thrilled and proud to see students using these resources.
If you are a student, what resources are available on your campus? Can you think of ways to improve them or increase their visibility?
Be sure to visit the Legal Advocacy Fund’s Online Resource Library and read the section on sexual assault on campuses. Students can find strategies for initiating change on their campus, and administrators can find suggestions for developing a safer, more responsive campus environment.