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Reflecting on Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2023

Health, Safety, and Well-being
May 1, 2023 Jessica Henault NASPA

As NASPA and Culture of Respect staff reflect on the conclusion of the spring 2023 academic semester, we want to highlight various programming events Collective institutions hosted in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). SAAM was formally declared in 2001, however, the history of anti-violence work stems back much further with Black women and transgender people of color led protests and social programming beginning in the 1940s. 

This year’s awareness and programming centered on Drawing Connections: Prevention Demands Equity. It encouraged SAAM programming to center conversations on how forms of oppression influence, encourage, and perpetuates sexual violence. Below are examples of various SAAM programming Collective institutions hosted to bring their communities together in the fight to build equity and respect.

Florida State University (Cohort 6): “Supporting Our Students Panel for Faculty and Staff.” In partnership with the Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Faculty Development and Advancement, all interested faculty and staff are invited to two roundtable discussions about how to best support FSU students who are victims of interpersonal violence and students interacting with the reporting processes. The roundtable is facilitated by the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Director of the Office of Title IX, Compliance Investigator and ADA Coordinator, Director of Victim Advocate Program, and the Associate Vice President for Faculty Development and Advancement. 

Illinois Institute of Technology (Cohort 7): “Women in Domestic Violence Careers Panel.” Students are invited to meet representatives from several Chicago-area law firms, co-sponsored by Women in Law and Racial Equity & Advocacy Alliance. 

Kansas State University (Cohort 6): “At Your Cervix documentary screening.” This documentary is aimed to expose how medical students learn to perform unethical pelvic exams on anesthetized patients without their consent. This event also includes a reception and Q&A session with director and producer A’magine. 

Lewis University (Cohort 7): “Annual Start By Believing Day.” Lewis University’s Provost, Dr. Chris Sindt signed a proclamation declaring that Lewis University will participate in the Annual Start by Believing campaign every April. Multiple Lewis departments including but not limited to, upper leadership, the Student Engagement and Multicultural Enrichment, athletics, and Romeoville Police Department took the pledge. 

Montclair State University (Cohort 7): “Stop Victim Blaming: Denim Day Chalkback.” Campus and community partners are invited to attend a presentation designed to educate the community about how to support survivors. Following the presentation there will be a guided chalking activity to amplify survivors’ voices. 

SUNY Potsdam (Cohort 6): “Health, Wellness, and Safety Expo.” Participants include both campus and community partners, including, but not limited to, Campus Health and Safety, NYS Office of Victim Services, Planned Parenthood, Student Health Services, and the Title IX Office. 

Although SAAM has concluded, the work must continue. We encourage all institutions to share with Culture of Respect the work they are doing to make their campuses safer, more equitable, and accessible for all.