KELLEY SAMUELS-GOOD: April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

To the editor:

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Sexual assault is a public health and public safety problem with far-reaching implications. Every year, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center creates a theme, and this year the theme is “It’s Time to Act: Safer Campuses, Brighter Futures, Prevent Sexual Violence”. With the record high of 25% of female students being sexually assaulted on campus (and that doesn’t include male victims), the issue is being addressed by the White House campaigns and the local victims’ advocacy agencies.

But what about universities and colleges? It’s a grave concern that the national standard is criminal sexual contact is underreported, so it’s clear there needs to be a larger movement towards social change.

Kudos to FSU’s Social Work Association to throwing Take Back the Night again this year. The event has been called “the most powerful, incredible event” by activists, and is an opportunity to share stories that compel people to get involved. It’s a shame the event was not further promoted by the entire school. However, it is not the only avenue for raising awareness about an issue that is so widespread yet never discussed, and experts say there needs to be more than a single event to make an impact.

Universities would be acting in their own best interest by getting in front of the issue of sexual violence. Instead of swiping statistics under the rug, bring them out and show what the college is doing to address this epidemic. Each school has a responsibility to respond quickly and effectively when a victim discloses, and there are laws requiring a Title IX Coordinator and policies addressing sexual assault are to be distributed to students and staff. If knowledge is power, the best thing that can happen is to inform the community on how we can all help to make it right.

Freedom from sexual assault is a basic human right. What are we doing to protect that human right? What are campuses doing? Every college town should know.

— Kelley Samuels-Good

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