April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, an effort that began in the 1970’s and progressed over the decades after women in England protested the violence they encountered as they walked the streets after dark. These marches were known as “Take Back the Night,” and as word spread, the protests against violence against women grew. The first SAAM, or Sexual Assault Awareness Month, was observed across the U.S. in April of 2001.
Sexual assault on college campuses has become a growing concern in recent years, as more and more students are sexually assaulted both on and off campus. At Michigan State University, a program has been developed to both create a community that is free of violence and oppression, and respond to the students/families who have been impacted by sexual violence. Unfortunately, rape and sexual assault occur far more often than most people realize. MSU has numerous upcoming events in April addressing these issues, including Healing Through Movement on April 7 and 21, Greater Lansing Take Back the Night on April 8, Race for the Place on April 12, and Lavendar Reception & Mosaic Awards on April 19.
In April of 2014, the White House released “Not Alone, The First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.” This report addresses identifying the problem with college campuses and sexual assault, preventing sexual assault on campus, responding by others when sexual assault occurs on a student, and improving the enforcement efforts of the federal government, making these efforts more transparent. The report can be found here.
While sexual assault is a growing problem at college campuses all around the nation, MSU offers a sexual assault program that includes services such as crisis intervention and advocacy, individual therapy and support groups, and community education along with volunteer opportunities. Community education addresses such issues as myths and facts, consent, rape culture, risk reduction, and rape 101. These topics are presented and discussed in multi-session workshops and through presentations, and offered to residence halls, the classroom, and sorority/fraternity system.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month is all about educating, increasing awareness of the sexual assault issues on our country’s college campuses, and making our colleges and universities safer for young people who want to pursue and further their educations. At Grabel & Associates, we urge everyone who reads this to get involved in the efforts to increase campus safety, and reduce sexual violence among college students.