Being the change: Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By Nicholas Smith, Student Writer

Sexual assault is not only a prevalent problem in the United States military, but it also is a plague across college campuses everywhere.  This year at The University of Akron, the ROTC program decided to step up its commitment to conquering this endless epidemic by attending two events hosted by the University and having a speaker at our own event.

The first of the events was a sexual assault seminar on the April 5 hosted by the University with guest speaker Katie Koestler. Koestler spoke about her deeply traumatic experience when she attended college, when she was raped as a freshman. She related her experience to show that rape and sexual assault can occur from the people you least expect – in her case, a man whom she had feelings for. She spoke of the complications that came and how her life was changed forever.

The second event our ROTC program decided to attend was hosted by the rape crisis center at the University. This event changed its tone from those of years prior.  Instead of focusing on teaching individuals not to rape or how to avoid rape, this event focused on bystander intervention. It took the viewpoint that we, as a society, should not have to teach people not to rape. Instead we should focus on making sure that we all take a note from what the United States Army teaches and watch out for those people to our left and our right. The event taught that we all have a role to play in preventing rape.

The final way our program helped to raise awareness of sexual assault this year was with a brief speech from one of our cadets Zachary Jones. We took advantage of the audience of our cadet 100-year anniversary 5k and spoke to the 70-plus attendees about what it means to watch over each other. Jones, an aspiring chaplain, explained why sexual assault and rape is not only not acceptable in the military communities but in the greater world as we know it.

Throughout the experiences we learned that we all need to take a step up to help stop sexual assault and rape. This means not only stopping an individual in a risky situation, but telling others how they can be more than just a bystander.

That is why we chose to participate this year. We took a pledge at the first event to help educate and to never sexually assault or rape anyone. We at ROTC decided to take that oath one step further by never tolerating those who do perform such acts.