This past week marks the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This year, more student organizations than ever are participating and collaborating.
The month features four themed weeks: consent, bystander, women’s empowerment and reporting options. Some of the organizations on campus involved include Student Senate, Help, Empower & Teach (HEAT), Athletics Department, PanHellenic Council, Rho Lambda and more.
Events include a showing of the film “The Hunting Ground,” Bystander Intervention Training, guest speakers and more. Further information can be found on the teal-colored calendars posted around campus and on the Bradley website.
According to Student Senate’s Vice President of Campus Safety Amanda Fuller, one major difference in this year’s planning is the amount of collaboration between student organizations.
“Collaboration was the name of the game,” Fuller, a junior health science major, said. “We didn’t want any one organization taking on everything.”
Fuller said this collaboration is a way to reach more people on campus and educate more people about consent and sexual assault awareness issues.
According to Anne Hollis, director of the Center for Student Support Services, the intended audience for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, or SAAM, is very wide.
“The events are meant to reach anybody in our campus community, be that student, faculty, staff,” Hollis said. “We’re trying to target different audiences with each one of these activities to engage as much of the campus as we possibly can.”
Another new feature this year is the inclusion of athletics into the events. According to Braves Council member and soccer player Andrew Brown, several sports events are providing the venues for SAAM events, such as the soccer game April 23.
“Athletics here on a college campus and really in today’s social media … provides a great way to get a message out there,” Brown, a senior mechanical engineering major, said. “It’s in the spotlight a lot, so we’re trying to use that [platform] to get the message across, [to] get a bigger audience to really share this message.”
Brown said involving different athletic groups was especially important to him as an athlete.
“I think one of the biggest issues is the biggest cases of sexual assault that have come out recently have involved athletics, mainly on the professional level, but there’s been a couple college cases as well,” Brown said. “So, I feel that it’s our duty as athletes to take that stand and say, ‘This isn’t right, it’s not acceptable. This is not what we stand for.’”
All of the organizers involved said this month is integral, and they want to start conversations about sexual assault awareness.
“My personal overall goal for the month is that no one can escape the teal, so whether that’s I see a teal ribbon or they see [flyers in the back of bathroom stalls],” Fuller said. “I want those conversations started on campus, and realistically, I want to target everyone.”
According to Hollis, the organizations involved want to create a larger context and platform for sexual assault awareness and education.
“In the larger context, issues around sexual assault, misconduct and Title IX, are very prevalent in our society today, and so while we are doing some great things this month, we have already been talking with some people involved in that organization that this is only the beginning,” Hollis said. “If we just do this this month and nobody hears from us again until next April, we’ve failed.”
Hollis said one of their goals is to continue the collaboration and messaging throughout the year on the same level, as well as to make next year’s events even stronger.
However, Fuller said there are still some roadblocks in getting conversations even started about sexual assault or misconduct.
“There are a lot of challenges getting people interested in anything related to this because it’s really uncomfortable to talk about,” Fuller said. “We don’t want to believe it happens here. We want to be the happy Bradley family, and it’s not realistic. It happens on every college campus around the country, so we need to actually acknowledge that it’s happening here and what we can do as a student body to stop it.”