Sexual assault is one of the most relevant issues for college students to date, no matter your gender identity. Throughout college, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted. And, as it is estimated that 90% of campus assaults are not even reported, those statistics are probably much higher. This is obviously a huge problem and there are many different organizations working to combat it. Throughout this article I will highlight ways that you, as a college student, can get involved with different national and on-campus organizations to make your campus a safer place.
There are two main things that you can do to combat sexual assault on college campuses. First, educate yourself and your friends about sexual assault. Almost every university has some program set in place or a club that deals with sexual assault. Look on their websites, talk to members and become as informed as possible. This does not take long and it is extremely important.
Secondly, join those organizations. It is one thing to educate yourself on how to recognize and stop sexual assault, but it is another thing to ensure that others see those signs as well. If someone is being pressured into something they do not want to do at a frat party, for example, the more people who know the signs of assault and what to do about it, the more likely that someone will come to that person's aid. The “Not On My Campus” group at the University of Alabama told Fresh U:
"This is not an issue that students have room to ignore, so we hope to find support within our community and peers to expand the general understanding of consent as well as definitions of assault on campus."
Something as simple as joining a club and helping to get others educated can help to save people from one of the most traumatic experiences of their lives, or help them recover from that horrific experience.
Not On My Campus
One of the biggest national organizations present on many college campuses is “Not on My Campus." According to the chapter of the club at Sam Houston State University in Texas:
- "Not on My Campus is a student-led movement campaign aiming to end the silence surrounding sexual assault and create a safe campus environment."
It is one of many similar organizations across the nation and has a particularly strong presence in Texas schools. Many universities have similar programs. For example, the University of Arkansas has a program called RESPECT which educates students on sexual assault and provides next steps in the case that a student is the victim of this horrific act.
NO MORE is a website that serves as a database for sexual assault resources and groups. There is a place that shows how to get involved in your community, information on relevant issues such as Title IX, hotline numbers, and more. It also catalogues different college resources for getting involved, and highlights the different specific campaigns, such as the Celebrity NO MORE PSA Campaign, that NO MORE does.
NSVRC is the National Sexual Violence Research Center. One of the major things that NSVRC does is activism and education, meaning the they has a lot of resources. Previous campaigns focused on sexual assault in college kids and smaller children, showing their commitment to not just college students. Also, the NSVRC awards the Visionary Voice award each year to recognize those going above and beyond in relation to a huge issue.
One other national organization that makes a big difference is PACT5. PACT5 is split up into three steps: taking the pact calling for sexual assault awareness, producing documentaries by students for students to get the importance of the issue across, and showcasing the statistics. These three steps are an easy way to help educate students about sexual assault, something that is very important if we can ever hope to end it.
Sexual assault in college is something that needs to be combated and the first step is with you. It is important to remember that sexual assault is NEVER the fault of the victim, no matter the circumstances, but by learning more about it you can learn how to help. If you ever feel like a situation might turn inappropriate do not hesitate to step in. Weighing the potential awkwardness of wrongly stepping into a situation versus the horrific circumstance of sexual assault makes stepping in always worth it. Finally, just join an organization on campus, get the word out about sexual assault and most importantly look out for your fellow students.
Read the rest of Fresh U's series on college activism below:
Lead Image Credit: Maya Ungar