February was Black History Month. March was Women’s History Month. Now, as the calendar has turned into April, it is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This April, the goal of the annual campaign is outlined by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
“Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a campaign to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent it. The campaign theme, I Ask, champions the message that asking for consent is a healthy, normal and necessary part of everyday interactions,” the NSVRC website said.
The Drexel Office of Equality and Diversity is planning an array of events to span across the entire 30 days.
Statistics show that college is a time where sexual assault and sexual violence is exceptionally prevalent. According to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, all college students are at an elevated risk of sexual assault.
Female students ages 18-24 are three times more likely to be sexually assaulted compared to the general female population, and male s ages 18-24 are 78 percent more likely than non-students to experience some form of sexual assault.
When you couple those statistics with others from RAINN highlighting that 23.1 percent female undergraduate students and 5.4 percent male undergraduate students experience sexual assault, there is much to be focused on during the month of April.
There are 13 different events planned throughout the month, and Drexel OED is dedicated to making this April a time of understanding, learning and showing support on campus. There is a large emphasis on raising awareness to the different forms of sexual assault and sexual violence, while also focusing on raising up those who have dealt with these issues in their lives. The events range anywhere from discussing consent with tacos April 10, to trauma informed yoga April 19, to learning how to support a survivor of sexual assault April 29.
There will be tabling done every week called “Teal Tuesdays,” which will take place from 12 to 2 p.m. at the Dragon Statue. This will continue to further the spread of awareness with information and activities provided.
“Teal” Greek Week Events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month will be held April 11-18, and there will be a donation drive for Women Against Abuse during that week as well.
This concerted effort from Drexel OED is done with open minds and open hearts, according to Deputy Equal Opportunity/Title IX Coordinator Reema Malhotra.Malhotra and Drexel OED are focused on making these events as accessible to students as possible, so as to maximize involvement and the spread of awareness.
“All events are free, and some will feature free food and giveaways,” Malhotra said.
When it comes to the students, the goal of Drexel OED is not to simply raise awareness, but to raise involvement and participation within the Drexel community.
“Students can email me directly at [email protected] to get involved. This could look like assisting with tabling … assisting with the rest of our SAAM events, spreading the word via social media and word of mouth, and simply attending an event,” Malhotra explained.
If students are hesitant to begin volunteering, Malhotra and Drexel OED have guides on how to effectively table for all events, in case of any unusual interactions or questions.
While the theme of this year’s campaign deals with consent and being proactive with all kinds of situations, Drexel OED still wants survivors of sexual violence to feel like they are getting the opportunity to voice their opinions, should they so desire.
Take Back the Night, the collaborative event with the University of Pennsylvania, was held April 4, and was designed to be a march and rally, along with allocating time for survivors to speak as well. This was planned so that survivors can share their experiences in a safe space, according to Malhotra.
There will be a “Not a Bystander” Awareness Panel April 30, which will be facilitated through several Greek life organizations here at Drexel. The topics covered by the panel include Title IX, bystander intervention, and the stereotypes surrounding Greek Life and sexual violence.
“OED continues to work with organizations and departments on campus regarding sexual and interpersonal violence prevention year round,” Malhotra said.
Another event to look towards is Drexel OED and the Lindy Center hosting the quarterly I Forum. The I Forum will discuss the #BelieveSurvivors Movement, which is closely linked to sexual violence prevention and false accusations of any crime.
“[The I Forum] is a great opportunity to meet other Drexel professionals, and have thoughtful and empowering discussions,” Malhotra added.There will be information on the Drexel OED website, and the link to this year’s calendar can be found at https://drexel.edu/oed/reporting/Title-IX/SAAM/.