April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Kadra Sommersted, Staff Writer

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is an annual campaign during the month of April that educates the public about sexual assault and its effects.

“It’s different at every institution, and part of it is we want to be as open to the ideas that the community brings forth,” said David McMahan assistant dean of students and Title XI coordinator. “It is less of something that’s coming from one office or individual, and more of a community wide collaboration.”

McMahan and the other coordinators are still putting things together, however, the theme for the 2018 Sexual Assault Awareness month is “Embrace Your Voice.”

“The theme basically speaks to how words can impact our culture and our community, and how much that change has been going on and continues to go on,” said McMahan.

The awarness events start at the beginning of the month. There will be a tabling event that people can visit and explore some of the ideas that are involved with this issue. There will be a glow stick dance party on April 26 for a wrap-up of the month.

“One of the (presentations) that we are doing is about dirty talk,” said McMahan. “It’s related to consent and the idea of being able to communicate transparently. That’s one I am doing for the tabling.”

This topic is something that he hasn’t presented before. There will also be a clothes line project which will allow victims to share information about their experience and recovery.

He said they want to make sure people feel safe on campus and are able to talk to people if anything happens.

“It takes everybody,” said McMahan. “It is a community and cultural issue.”

He said it is time to show society that sexual assault will not be tolerated anymore. It is also time to show there is a support system for those who are victims.

“On April 11, we are teaming up with the sports club and we are doing ‘Fill the Hill’,” said Cole Tirrel senior and member of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee.

There will be T-shirts distributed along with a presentation about how people can be helpful to victims. The baseball and softball teams will be wearing wrist bands to raise awareness as well.

“On April 26, we will be doing a dodgeball tournament that starts at 10 (p.m.) in the Rec Center, and after that we will be having a glow stick party,” said Tirrel. “That’s more of a celebration for the people who have survived it, instead of being somber and sad.”

The tournament is meant to be a celebration of victims staying strong and the promise of things eventually getting better.

“I believe that bystanders and people at parties – I mean we’re college kids, we’re at parties – and you see things that shouldn’t be happening, that’s just not right,” said Tirrel. “Bystanders really need to step-up and take control.”

He believes that bystanders need to learn to step in and help those who are being assaulted and cannot help themselves.

Tirrel encourages victims to have the courage to speak up about their experiences and find a stable support system.