CARE ramps up programming for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month


Daily file photo by Brian Lee

Students march near Norris University Center to show support for survivors of sexual violence during Take Back the Night March. The march will take place again this year as part of programming by students in observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

Matthew Choi, Reporter

This year, the Center for Awareness, Response and Education will host more programming than in previous years in observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

In the past, student groups organized most of the programming, but this year, CARE will be hosting new events for the entire month, including a movie screening, training sessions and a march. All the programming aims to educate students on sexual assault and provide ways to support survivors, said Erin Clark, CARE’s assistant director. Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, first observed at NU in April 2000, is meant to promote awareness of sexual assault on campus.

Along with CARE, student groups will continue to sponsor events. College Feminists will again put on Take Back the Night from April 18 to April 23, which features a march from The Rock to Norris University Center.

“(Student initiatives) are primary to anything that staff does,” Clark said. “Students understand what the dynamic is on campus, what sex is like, what hook ups are like, what supporting survivors really looks like on campus.”

CARE’s programming included a training session Wednesday morning on how to support sexual assault survivors and a showing of the movie, “The Hunting Ground” — a documentary about sexual assault on college campuses — on Wednesday evening. There will also be another training session, “Step Up,” on bystander intervention, followed by a survivor art exhibit and celebration in Norris on Thursday. On April 28, CARE will also host an informational panel on Title IX.

Clark said the panel was organized after students requested greater information about the University’s Title IX procedures in an Associated Student Government report in January. Erik Baker, ASG senator for SHAPE, MARS, College Feminists and Title IX at NU, said he was concerned students don’t know their options regarding sexual assault.

“Having more clarifications about what resources exist, how students can access them … is important,” the Weinberg senior said. “Going to CARE is slightly different (from) the Title IX coordinator, which is very different from reporting to the police. So being able to clearly delimit what is entailed by the decision to report in each capacity is really important.”

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month coincides with NU Sex Week, which is also hosted by College Feminists and runs from April 11 to April 15. Clark said sex health education is vital to sexual assault awareness.

“Conversations about healthy sexuality need to be happening at the same time as conversations about sexual violence prevention,” Clark said. “(College Feminists) are truly the experts about what that conversation needs to look like. And CARE can provide the technical expertise and the space for that work like we hope to be doing this month.”

Especially in the college setting, education on sexual assault and health are vital as all students have had different amounts of exposure to sex education, said Weinberg junior Molly Benedict, executive director of SHAPE. She said SHAPE works to educate students about concepts such as enthusiastic and ongoing consent. Although Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month is an opportunity to promote that education on campus, that work continues throughout the year, Benedict said.

“(There’s always a) debate — should we be having sexual assault awareness month or should everyone be aware of sexual assault every month?” Benedict said. “I’m more a fan of the latter but I think there is great significance in this month in that it brings it to the forefront of everyone’s attention. It’s great to supporting survivors of sexual assault but also spreading awareness to try to stop it before it happens.”

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