Campus student groups coordinate to host Sexual Violence Prevention Week

Approximately 250 students, faculty, and community members gathered on campus to rally and march for Take Back the Night last year, an event created to raise awareness about sexual assault and prevention. (Jeff Matarrese/Oregon Daily Emerald)

Posted by Hannah Taylor on Monday, Apr. 22 at 8:15 am.

Through bake sales, panel discussions and community events, the University of Oregon Women’s Center, The Wesley Center, the UO’s Men’s Center and Lane County Sexual Assault Support Services are all contributing to spread awareness on campus during Sexual Violence Prevention Week.

April is nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and known as an annual campaign to observe and educate about sexual assault, and how to prevent sexual violence. During the last week of April the University of Oregon is committed to educate the community about the reality of sexual violence, and to promote that whether you are an advocate to prevent sexual violence or have been personally affected.

“Everyone has a safe place here,” said Joanna Stewart, public relations officer at the ASUO Women’s Center.

Events began Sunday, April 21, with the Consent is Sexy 5k run sponsored by Sexual Assault Support Services as well as the UO Men’s Center.

There are many events throughout the course of the week open to the community. Sponsored by the Women’s Center, a film screening of “The Invisible War” will be taking place on Monday, April 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the UO School of Law in room 175.

“The inspiration these days and something we have been working on for a long time is really shifting the cultural lens with which we look at the issue in the first place,” said Jessica Linscott, sexual violence prevention and education coordinator graduate teaching fellow at the Women’s Center.

Also taking place will be a panel discussion to recognize advocacy, activism and civil disobedience in sexual violence on Tuesday April 23 in the Wesley Center at 7 p.m.

“We are working for justice and creating a better community. We are calling on everyone to be a part of it,” said Warren Light, director of the Wesley Center.

There will also be a keynote speech from Dr. Jackson Katz, entitled “Bad Boys and Bystanders: Silence and Violence in Male Culture” Wednesday, April 24 in PLC 180.

“Sexual Violence Prevention Week is a chance for the community to create a safer place for everyone,” said Candace Davis, a senior at the University of Oregon and volunteer at Sexual Assault Support Services. “We know that these things are going on. We’re not OK with it. So we are taking a stand.”

The most prominent and popular three part event at UO is Take Back the Night. The event includes a rally, a march and a speak out that is sponsored by the UO Women’s Center and Sexual Assault Support Services. Stewart hopes the event will help people understand the severity of these issues, and allow students to share their experiences in an appropriate venue.

“Take Back the Night is an event to educate people about what consent is and to provide a space for people to have their voice heard,” Stewart said.

Sexual Violence Prevention Week gives all students a chance to understand the realities of sexual violence and assault, to support those who have been affected and to learn ways to prevent them from happening again.

“Sexual Violence Prevention Week is an opportunity to raise awareness around an issue that affects the entire campus population,” said Abigail Leeder, director of sexual violence prevention and education. “The events are intended to bring us together to talk about these important issues as a community and take collective responsibility for ending sexual assault on our campus.”

  • Matt

    I agree with the basic premise of this article. Raising awareness of sexual assault against women and men is a good thing. I would like to point out here that while raising awareness is a good thing, we should be teaching men and women alike how to not put themselves in situations where they might be sexually assaulted. For example, excess alcohol consumption shouldn’t occur around people you don’t trust, or those who are also consuming larger quantities of alcohol and may act outside of what they normally would. Another example would be to be careful of what you’re wearing in isolated places at night. I’m not victim-blaming here, but paying attention to what you’re wearing and where, especially if it’s an area where assault has occurred before is imperative. All in all, sexual assault prevention is fairly easy, and we have to teach men and women alike how to avoid being sexually assaulted.

    • Dr. Rustles

      I think claiming that prevention is “fairly easy” is quite the blanket statement. Especially considering children who are assaulted.

    • Rhiannon

      Sexual assaults happen no matter what the survivor is wearing. Despite your claim that you’re “not victim-blaming here”, you totally are.

      How about instead of teaching people who to avoid being sexually assaulted–as if it’s something totally avoidable and anyone who has been assaulted screwed up by putting themselves in that situation– we should focus on teaching folks not to sexually assault others (including what defines sexual assault, the importance of consent, etc) and how to support survivors.

      • Matt

        I’m not victim-blaming, it’s common sense things to avoid situations where sexual assault happens. And the thing is that rape, true rape that is, is perpetrated by people who are really messed up. If rapists were reasonable people, they wouldn’t be rapists in the first place.

    • Sarah

      Dear Matt,

      Thanks for being such a perfect example of beliefs that perpetuate rape culture. Your response highlights all the ways in which we justify the behavior of perpetrators by merely focusing on reducing one’s risk of being assaulted. There are some myths around rape demonstrated in your comment, too, that you might want to get educated about. For example, we do know that sexual violence occurs most often by people that survivors actually know, not the “stranger in the bushes” (although that does occur, too). Also, “watch what you’re wearing” IS victim-blaming, plain and simple. Here’s an article if folks are interested:

      • Matt

        I’m not perpetuation anything. I merely didn’t state my case clearly enough. Allow me to explain. The rape culture is perpetuated by women more often than men. If a woman is intoxicated, it’s rape. In “he said she said” situations, the woman is ALWAYS believed. I’ve read too any incidences where women have lied about being raped just because they regretted it. My biggest issue comes when the man is drunk in the woman isn’t. By the definitions of many people that is rape. Yet how often do we see this pursued in court, whereas if the roles are flipped there are hundreds of cases. The fact of the matter is that I do no perpetuate rape culture. I think that there is enough information out there to notify people of how wrong rape is. Common sense dictates that rapists are messed up people and really aren’t thinking of whether rape is right or wrong. That isn’t the issue here. The issue is people who make it out to be such a large issue. Yes, I understand that men and women are raped. Yet, how many of those situations can be avoided? As a man, I am constantly told, “consent is sexy”, “don’t rape” and other such things. Why are we not telling women the same thing? Why are we not supporting the fact that men are raped by women as well. There have been several cases of high school student-teacher relationships where the teacher is a woman. Yet they haven’t been as severely punished as they would’ve if it was a male teacher to a female student. This entire situation is ridiculous. Take back the Night is a great organization to raise awareness of sexual assault, but it does not give fair voice to all aspects of the issue. I agree, sexual violence is something that needs to be curtailed, but I also think that we are going about it the absolute wrong way. We need to start addressing the cause of these problems and give a fair voice to all sides of the issue instead of making everything out to be a one sided thing. Primarily, we need to be taught when to recognize that sexual abuse has, will, and is taking place. As a culture we’ve become so “rape culture” sensitive that more or less anything that isn’t explicitly stated in this fashion: “let’s have sex” “Okay” It is considered rape on the man’s part.

    • brudin

      The biggest error in that statement is that sexual assault prevention is fairly easy. Sure, not raping is fairly easy, but that’s not what you meant. The focus absolutely needs to be “don’t rape” not “don’t get raped.” The responsibility lies solely on the rapist.

      Provided the focus is on “don’t rape,” I don’t have a problem with telling people how to try avoiding danger. After all, pedestrians have the right of way on a crosswalk and are not at fault if they get hit, but they should still look both ways before crossing. However, the main focus needs to be on ensuring drivers don’t hit pedestrians, and the main focus here needs to be on ensuring people don’t rape.

  • Jimmy R.

    Awesome! Glad to see the issue getting attention among young people!