Sexual assault month aims to educate

” April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and The University of Akron has many events planned to be part of this important month. One of our top priorities in student affairs is campus safety, meaning safety of students, because we want students and the campus to be safe.”

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and The University of Akron has many events planned to be part of this important month.

One of our top priorities in student affairs is campus safety, meaning safety of students, because we want students and the campus to be safe. Gwendolyn Blackshear, Coordinator of Health Education and Wellness said.

We want to raise public awareness about sexual violence and also prevent it.

Mon. April 6 was the kick off of the events happening during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Two tables were set up in the Student Union to offer information about sexual assault and harassment. The first table was the Sexual Assault and Harassment Team, which includes University Police, Counseling Center, Office of Student Judicial Affairs, Health Services, the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, and the Rape Crisis Center of Medina & Summit County.

These team members meet to try and see what policies are in place and how to increase awareness. Each department is a place students can go for assistance, Blackshear said.

Greek men represented the second table at the Student Union. Their sign stated UA Greek men supporting women. One of the main representatives of the Greek men was Iota Phi Theta. These men shared information with both males and females on supporting women and treating them right. They had literature on being safe and defining sexual assault. Blackshear wanted men to be a big part of this month.

All men aren’t assaulters and Greeks are sometimes stereotyped as causing problems. They shouldn’t have this negative stigma because they do community service, and they are positive and supportive, Blackshear said.

Another important day is occurring Thurs. April 9, which is National Alcohol Screening Day. This event will be taking place in three locations including: Student Union on the second floor, College of Business Concourse and Summit College. A short anonymous survey will be given asking questions about students drinking. There will be expert screeners present who will score the surveys and offer students advice. One free program that students may be referred to is Discover Our Choices (DOC), which is provided by the Rape Crisis Center.

On Wed. April 15 Joann Boling, a Police Officer with the UAPD, will offer a free female defense class. If interested in this event, any individual may sign up by calling 330-972-5782 or emailing jboling@uapd.uakron.edu.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is an international event where men walk in women’s high heels to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence.

Blackshear states that this event is becoming so popular that it may actually need to be moved to another location. This event will be happening on Sat. April 18 at 11:00 a.m. at Polsky. If interested in participating or signing up a team, Gwen Blackshear may be reached by phone at 330-972-7390 or by email at gblacks@uakron.edu.

Blackshear thinks that it is very important that men are involved because they can be sexually assaulted and harassed too.

It is important to have men involved because it can mess up a relationship if someone is assaulted and they need to have support, she said.

Dr. Juanita Martin, Chair of the Sexual Assault and Harassment Team, believes that this month is an important one because it is a very important issue. It is a very relevant issue that affects many of us, and often times we don’t pay enough attention to it because of the stigma associated with it, Martin said. She thinks it is important to discuss the issue of sexual assault and harassment because it isn’t just a women’s issue, but an issue for all.

If a student has been sexually assaulted or harassed there are a number of different things they can do. Martin encourages contacting the Sexual Assault and Harassment Team because they can be very helpful and they realize it is a serious issue.

Students shouldn’t feel like they have to go the legal route but talking about it, addressing it and getting help are the first steps, Martin said.

Martin believes that to talk about the issue will help prevent it. The Sexual Assault and Harassment Team’s Web site is www.uakron.edu/studentaff/takebacklife.php.