Sexual assault awareness month brings events, discussion

April marks Tulane’s third year of organized participation in Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The National Sexual Violence Research Center sponsors SAAM on a national level and created this year’s theme: believing and supporting survivors of sexual violence.

At Tulane, SAAM is coordinated by the Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Coalition, an interdisciplinary group of Tulane faculty, students, administrators and staff. SVPEC has a mission to prevent sexual violence and address related subjects such as Title IX compliance, rape culture and healthy sexuality. It is co-chaired by Center for Wellness and Health Promotion Director Lindsey Greeson and Title IX Coordinator Meredith Smith.

Greeson said she believes that SAAM programming and participation fosters a commitment to the prevention of sexual assault within the Tulane community.

“We hope [SAAM] helps to set the norm that everyone is expected to do their part to create a community of care and concern and actively endorse cultural norms that prevent sexual violence from happening,” Greeson said.

The SAAM itinerary includes a variety of activities aimed at sexual violence education and prevention, hosted by campus organizations such as Sexual Aggression Peer Hotline and Education, OneWave and theWELL.

On April 7, author Laura Gray-Rosendale will read from her memoir “College Girl” and discuss the issue of sexual violence on college campuses. One Wave, Tulane’s community mobilization and bystander intervention program, is hosting a leadership training program on April 10 to teach students how to prevent violence within the community.

SAAM events include screenings of several films, such as “Five Awake,” a documentary about domestic violence policy changes in Louisiana that will be shown on April 10, and “Audrie & Daisy,” a real-life drama about two teenage victims of sexual assault that will be screened on April 11.

On April 13, a “Sex on the Big Screen” workshop will be held to inform participants about the sociocultural messages that television programs and movies present about sex and sexuality as well as to discuss resources for safer-sex supplies, STI testing and sexual violence advocates. SAAM’s final campus event, “Hers, Theirs, Ours,” previously called “The Vagina Monologues”, is an original production with the goal to combat and raise awareness of gender-based violence. More information regarding SAAM event times and locations can be found on theWELL’s OrgSync page.

Along with attending events and workshops, students can get involved in SAAM by participating in the #30DaysofSAAM Instagram contest. Students can view directions and a list of daily prompts at Tulane Campus Health’s website. They can also have a chance to win prizes and spread sexual assault awareness by engaging in this social media campaign. Prompts include themes such as “What empowers you?,” “Challenging rape culture” and “My inspiration.” The SVPEC hopes that the Instagram challenge will allow more students to contribute their voices to the SAAM initiative.

Greeson believes that while guest speakers, video screenings and social media campaigns can help facilitate a conversation about sexual assault awareness, the real key to the realization of SAMM’s goals is encouraging the Tulane community to engage in an open dialogue beyond the month of April.

“Tulane can use all our voices to change the culture to prevent sexual violence. Each member of our community has a role this April as well as throughout the year.”

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