It is a highly troubling U.S. Department of Justice statistic that an estimated one in every four women will be sexually assaulted during their college years. In the interest of preventing such crimes and informing students and others about resources that are available to them, the University of Notre Dame is observing Sexual Assault Awareness Month through a number of campus programs.
Rape and sexual assault are very real problems on virtually every college campus in the nation, and Notre Dame is no exception,said Ann Firth, associate vice president for student affairs.The University’s stance is clear: rape and sexual assault are unacceptable at Notre Dame and cannot be tolerated.
Firth adds:As we work to eliminate sexual violence on this campus, every member of this community shares responsibility for creating and maintaining an environment which promotes the safety and dignity of each individual. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is an opportunity for each of us to reflect on whether we, individually and collectively, are thinking and acting in ways that are congruent with this responsibility.
The student group Feminist Voice of Notre Dame will host aTake Back the Nightevent for students, faculty and staff from Notre Dame, Saint Marys College and Holy Cross College on April 21 (Monday), beginning at 7:30 p.m. with a prayer service at the Grotto, followed by a march through campus and a reception. The event is free and open to the public.
By encouraging members of this community to speak out, Notre Dame organizers of Take Back the Nighthope to support and empower survivors of rape and sexual assault,said Heather Rakoczy, director of Notre Dames Gender Relations Center (GRC), which is coordinating the event with Feminist Voice.In the process, they strive to raise awareness – reminding members of this community that rape and sexual assault happen on and off campus to members of our Notre Dame family.
A related student group, Men Against Violence (MAV), currently is conducting a campus-wide poster campaign titledNo Matter What You Do Be a Man Against Violence,which features male Notre Dame students from various athletic programs and student groups encouraging other men to take a pledge against violence.
Through its annual pledge drive, MAV aims to put an end to sexual assault and domestic violence in the campus community. Participants sign a statement promising to never allow anyone to be raped, abused or exploited if the act is in any way preventable, and to never commit such crimes themselves.
These and other campus initiatives aimed at raising awareness and preventing sexual violence are coordinated through the Universitys Committee on Sexual Assault Prevention (CSAP), comprised of Notre Dame and Saint Marys administrators, faculty and students appointed annually by the vice president for student affairs.Co-chaired by Firth and William Kirk, associate vice president for residence life, the group ensures that the University has resources in place to support and assist victims of sexual assault and works across campus to oversee rape education and prevention initiatives.
More information on CSAP is available on the Web at http://osa.nd.edu/csap/ .