Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bringing sexual assault into the light - The Northern Iowan - University of Northern Iowa

You may think that progress on sexual assault has its ups and downs. The SigEps at the University of Northern Iowa are out to prove it by riding a "Sexual Assault Awareness Week See-SAAW" in shifts for 24 hours.
They also, and without a trace of irony, sponsored a "Snag a SigEp Date" auction and raffle which raised over $1900.

Bringing sexual assault into the light - The Northern Iowan - University of Northern Iowa

Sexual Assault Awareness month, which is April, aims to raise awareness of sexual assault and get away from the “stranger in the bush” way of thinking, said Robin Summers, graduate assistant in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.
ERIN KEISER/Northern Iowan
Sigma Phi Epsilon built a See-SAAW for Sexual Assault Awareness 
Week. The brothers took turns riding the See- SAAW for 24 hours 
outside Maucker Union.

“Most people who are sexually assaulted know their attackers,” Summers said. “It is important to inform people about what sexual assault is and what it is not.”

Groups on and off campus are sponsoring sexual assault awareness events all month.

Sigma Phi Epsilon sponsored Sexual Assault Awareness Week (SAAW) April 14-18. Members built a “See-SAAW” near the fountain outside Maucker Union that members took turns riding for 24 consecutive hours. The brothers hoped to make the week more visible to the community.

The fraternity also sponsored a self-defense class and Snag a SigEp Date Auction/Raffle, which raised $1,940 for Cedar Valley Friends of the Family, a nonprofit organization that aids those who have experienced sexual assault, domestic violence or homelessness.

Alex Stepanek, vice president of programming for Sigma Phi Epsilon, said he knows fraternities receive a bad stereotype regarding sexual assault. He said he wants to show people that sexual assault awareness matters to them.

Joan Thompson, victim services advocate, said this is important because men may be more willing to listen to other men.

“The reality is that sexual assault is mainly perpetrated by men,” Thompson said. “So I do think when men step up and get involved, it speaks loudly to other men because they can be influential to other men in helping to bring awareness and stepping up the plate and holding one another accountable for treating people with respect.”

Thompson will participate in the month’s last event, Take Back the Night, April 29. Wellness and Recreation Services, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and the Feminist Action League are sponsoring the event.

Thompson will be discussing her role of victim services advocate while Harry Brod, sociology, anthropology and criminology professor,  will cover consent in a panel discussion. Two victims of sexual assault will also relate their personal stories to the audience.

“I would just say that every student has the ability to do one thing, whether it’s to walk to a display and look at something, pick up a ribbon, go to one of the lectures ... I just think everyone has the chance to do something, and not only for themselves personally, but for others,” said Shawna Haislet, graduate assistant in WRS Health Education.

Jackson Katz, co-founder of Mentors in Violence Prevention, will give a lecture Thursday. “More Than a Few Good Men: A Lecture on American Manhood and Violence Against Women” will focus on sexual assault prevention.

“Sexual assault will not go away by doing nothing,” Summers said. “Action has to be taken, but for that to happen, I think it is important for people to be aware that it’s a human issue, not a women’s issue, and that everyone can take a part in ending this horrific type of violence.”