April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Drexel University’s Office of Equality and Diversity wants everyone to know about it.
Through a series of planned events and programs, the OED’s aim is to make people aware of how often sexual assault occurs, how often it isn’t reported and what individuals can do to help.
“We want people to know the contours of the problem,” Jesse Krohn, assistant director of education and prevention and deputy Title IX coordinator in the OED, said via an email correspondence.
“We also want them to know what steps they can take to address it, such as spreading knowledge of on- and off-campus resources and being active bystanders and supportive friends, classmates, and colleagues,” Krohn continued.
One of the ways Krohn hopes to raise awareness is through Teal Tuesdays, which have taken place every Tuesday of April. On those days, individuals are encouraged to wear teal shirts that say “NOT A BYSTANDER.” to show support and solidarity for those who have been sexually assaulted. The shirts were handed out for free April 4 and April 18 at the Dragon statue.
“The point of Teal Tuesdays is to be visible. When we don’t confront sexual violence directly, survivors think they’re alone. Bystanders fail to comprehend the power they have to make a difference, and people who intend to harm others believe they can do so with impunity,” Krohn explained.
Krohn said that the response to Teal Tuesdays so far has been positive, and that it has even inspired some survivors of sexual assault to share their stories with Krohn.
“Every Tuesday, when you see that flood of teal across campus, what you see is solidarity,” she said.
The OED is also promoting a citywide event called Hands Around City Hall. The event, which will take place April 28 at noon, is intended as a show of support for sexual assault survivors. Those who attend will join hands to form a circle of individuals all the way around City Hall.
Also on April 28, from 6 to 9 p.m., the sorority Sigma Psi Zeta is hosting their 13th annual Take Back the Night at the Rose Terrace in Gerri C. Lebow Hall. At the event, speakers will discuss domestic violence and sexual assault. It is free to attend, but all proceeds from donations will be given to Women Against Abuse.
Though these events are planned to highlight Sexaul Assault Awareness Month, Krohn said there are resources available year-round both to teach about sexual assault and to provide support for survivors. As part of Governor Tom Wolf’s “It’s On Us PA” program for sexual assault prevention, Drexel was recently awarded a $30,000 grant.
“The It’s On Us grant is incredible. It’s enabling us to purchase supplies, such as the ‘NOT A BYSTANDER’ T-shirts, brochures and other items that raise awareness of available resources,” Krohn said.
Funds from the grant will also be used to produce a video featuring Dean of Students Subir Sahu and several Drexel students discussing bystander intervention, according to Krohn. She said it will also go towards training for OED staff and Public Safety, as well as purchasing supplies such as helmets, shields and safety suits for Public Safety’s Rape Aggression Defense Program.
“It can never be said enough: Consent is an active, conscious, verbal YES, not the absence of a no,” Krohn said.
More information about the OED and resources available to sexual assault survivors can be found at http://drexel.edu/oed/.