Honoring Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Mamta Badlani, Staff Writer

Though April is a month associated with basking in warmer temperatures and stressing over finals, it is also a time concentrated around a critical issue. April is known as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).

The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness regarding sexual violence and increasing community education on how to prevent it.

Although SAAM has been recorded in varying intensities around different communities, it was not officially deemed a national awareness month until 2001. With increasing public discussion surrounding sexual assault, individuals have become more familiar with the startling statistics surrounding the topic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five women is a survivor of rape, and one in 20 women and men have experienced some form of sexual violence, other than rape, in their lives.

Recent media headlines have centered around stories of sexual assault on college campuses like the University of Virginia and Columbia University, as well as stories involving celebrities and professional athletes. Awareness about sexual assault has increased in comparison to previous years.

In support of SAAM, Speak UP Bucknell is continuing some of its year-round programming such as offering the dating violence and stalking presentations, as well as continuing to emphasize the importance of bystander intervention.

“The Speak UP Bucknell programs have been effective in raising awareness about sexual violence and educating students about how to prevent it on campus. The peer educators often hear stories from other students about situations in which they have intervened, which is exciting because they hear the impact they have on other students,” Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coordinator Padma Ravichandran said.

Furthermore, Speak UP is continuing the NO MORE poster campaign on campus.

The idea for the national NO MORE campaign to be brought to the University originated with the Panhellenic Council, led by Erica Shartle ’15 in the fall 2013 semester. As part of the campaign, the Panhellenic Council purchased “NO MORE” T-shirts for all women on campus in October 2013, and continues to promote the campaign with buttons and posters, as well as raise awareness through other activities.

In October 2014, the Panhellenic Council worked alongside Speak UP Bucknell to coordinate a series of NO MORE discussions incorporated into awareness activities for that month.

“The campaign has succeeded in helping us continue to raise awareness and get people talking. It is a simple, very visible campaign for which many students have shown their support,” Director of the Women’s Resource Center Tracy Russell said.

This year for SAAM, Speak UP Bucknell released the NO MORE video, featuring students from across campus. Speak UP has also turned to posting messages on social media to allow students exposure to the issue.

“We have received very positive feedback about the Bucknell University NO MORE video that was created recently in partnership with the Department of Communications, both on campus as well as from our grant manager at the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women and the national NO MORE campaign,” Russell said.

The grant manager at the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women even requested to use the University’s poster campaign as an example for other grantee institutions.

Nearing the end of the academic semester, April tends to be an active time at the University, so most of Speak UP’s main events and activities such as the Clothesline Project and Take Back the Night are held in October—National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“I think our model of having Take Back the Night and the Clothesline Project in October has worked really well because it is a less busy time of year for students and it allows for an impact for the next few months of the academic year instead of the last few weeks of the spring semester,” Ravichandran said.

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