64.1 F
Sunday, May 24, 2020

April marks eighth year of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By Emily Jackson

CW: Sexual assault

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is “Embrace Your Voice,” according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

Sexual assault is a type of sexual violence, along with dating violence, domestic violence and stalking, according to Western’s Policy 1600.04.[1].

Its definition: “any actual or attempted sexual contact or behavior with another person without that person’s consent,” according to the same Western policy.

Peer Health Educators Blair Murphy, Emma Rutherford and Jake Thompson in Red Square to promote NSAAM // Photo by Emily Jackson

Jon Dukes is the men’s violence prevention & mental health promotion specialist with Western’s Prevention and Wellness Services.

He said people tend to think violence is nonexistent where they live. For this reason, awareness can help people grasp the proximity of physical and sexual violence.

“Yes, this is a national problem. Yes, this is a Hollywood problem,” he said. “But it’s also a Washington state problem. It’s also a Bellingham problem. It’s also a Western problem.”

Dukes said we all need to support survivors of physical and sexual violence.

Dukes and Michelle Langstraat oversee Consultation and Sexual Assault Support and assist survivors of physical or sexual violence, he said. Dukes has also worked with several Western students who are helping spread awareness as peer health educators, he said.

Senior Jake Thomson became a peer health educator three years ago.

Part of his role is to facilitate events, participate in discussion panels and help with violence prevention training for student athletes, Thomson said.

These athlete trainings teach both violence prevention and bystander intervention, he said.

“Change is slow,” Thomson said. “But no matter what you do, you can make an impact on someone, even if you can’t see it right away.”

Students who want to get involved can apply to volunteer through the PWS website, Dukes said. They can also get involved in clubs like Amnesty International and the Planned Parenthood Generation clubs, he said.

A campus-wide email addressed National Sexual Assault Awareness Month on April 4. The email was sent by Sue Guenter-Schlesinger, vice provost of Equal Opportunity & Employment Diversity and Title IX and ADA coordinator.

“Sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, and sexual violence —including sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking — are antithetical to our values and are prohibited by Western policy,” Guenter-Schlesinger said in the email.

Guenter-Schlesinger’s email included reporting options and resources for survivors of sexual violence. It also contained links to three of Western’s policies on ensuring equal opportunity, reporting discrimination and preventing and responding to sex discrimination.

One of these prevention efforts is Haven, an online sexual violence prevention training, according to the PWS website.

Last year, Western’s Haven Training was administered to all incoming students, including freshmen, transfer and graduate students, Dukes said.

Training all incoming students will help them all gain the same core information and skill training on the critical issue, PWS Director Elva Munro said in an email.

“Assessment of the Haven training demonstrates that the training is effective,” she said.

Aggregate data reports from EverFi, the parent company for the Haven training, show that Haven is increasing Western students’ awareness, knowledge and skills, she said.

Munro said according to student feedback, 83 percent of Western students agreed that completing Haven gave them increased understanding of school policies related to the issues covered in the training.

National Sexual Assault Awareness Month   began in April 2010 under former President Barack Obama, according to a White House press release.

I urge all Americans to reach out to victims, learn more about this crime, and speak out against it,” Obama said in the release.

The campaigns vary each year, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. The 2010 and 2015 National Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaigns both focused on preventing sexual assault on higher education and college campuses, the website said.

Sexual assault resources can be found here. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Must Read

Sports: Pros and cons of Seahawks’ NFL draft pick Malik McDowell

Why did the Seahawks go after a defensive tackle with their first selection in the 2017 NFL draft? Coming off...

Resident advisers hold open forum with university officials to discuss concerns

Written by: Bram Briskorn and Questen Inghram Over 300 people packed into Arntzen Hall, room 100 as if it were...

Bellingham chef delivers meals to the vulnerable during COVID-19

Illustration of Ona Lee, chef and founder of Clara's Canning Co., with food, trees and flowers....

Latest News

Bellingham artist creates Washington-themed board game printed on bandanna

Bradley James Lockhart’s Evergreen Bandana Game surpasses its Kickstarter goal by over $9,000

City of Bellingham forecasts a $9.6 million deficit for 2020’s budget

Bellingham City Councilmember Pinky Vargas stated that these forecasts “seem a little optimistic.” An illustration...

Spring student art exhibit postponed

Bachelors of Fine Art student exhibit postponed until Sept. 23 The Bachelors of Fine...

Makeworth Market makes it work

Bellingham business celebrates one-year anniversary amidst COVID-19 restrictions The exterior of Makeworth Market dressed with balloons...

SAIRC provides student support

Campus organization puts on digital events and resources spring quarter A display of the AS...

More Articles Like This