Sexual assault is constantly in the news the stories are endless. Last week, an 18-year-old was jailed for impregnating a teenage girl. On the same day, a college student was sentenced to jail for having sexual intercourse with an underage classmate. These crimes may not have made headlines internationally but they were all done by the people that the victims had personally known.
Recently, colleges have started out prevention programs to curb the rising number of sexual assault cases. These programs have been funded and implemented through fundraising events and are even inserted into orientation programs during freshman year. Their aim is to encourage students to act when they notice a potential assault situation unfolding and is one way, that colleges are wrestling to improve personal safety.
In April 2016, the Student Advocacy Resource Center at the University of Montana held events to raise awareness on sexual assault. This year alone, the SARC has conducted 50 trainings on bystander intervention. A second event held by the SARC was also in April where students read poems in support of sexual assault survivors. It is necessary colleges expand these types of events during the entire year not just in April. It is necessary we understand that sexual assault occurs during the entire year not just in spring.
Student Led Sexual Assault Panels have the Potential to Impact the College Community.
by Karly Sacco
College students are at a very important time in their lives. They are transitioning into adults and with that comes more responsibility and pressure from the rest of the world – to try to be the best that you can be. Colleges need to create a comfortable environment for their students so they are able to express their minds when need be. With that being said, colleges need to work with students to help run sexual assault panels.
In a perfect world there would be no need for such a thing as a sexual assault panel, but unfortunately none of us live in that utopia so sexual assault panels need to be an important way in spreading awareness. But with the good comes the bad and for some victims, it may discourage them from coming forward. Here are some important points to remember when it comes to student run sexual assault panels:
- It is important for students to have a voice when it comes to sexual assault panels. Student run panels can make a huge difference at college campuses. They can give students that are afraid to speak up a voice and a platform to express them in a comfortable environment.
- School’s need to support these types of panels by having weekly meeting to try to keep up with any issues that occur at their school such as any sexual assault incidents or world-wide topics that should be discussed in a class-room setting.
- Sexual assault panels are important in spreading awareness-
- Victims have a chance to be heard by those who want to listen, but more importantly, those who want to help.
- This is great way for students to spread the message all over their campus so more and more people can get involved with spreading sexual assault prevention awareness.
- Sexual assault panels discourage victims from coming forward-
- A victim may not be ready to share their story and if their school has a sexual assault panel, it may be too overwhelming and they could feel pressure to speak up now that they have the opportunity to.
- Victims may feel judged when speaking to the panel in front of fellow classmates. Many emotions might be at an all-time-high so it is important to be mindful of others in these high-tension situations.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and help spread sexual assault prevention awareness on your campus.