The fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) collaborated with on-campus clubs Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault (MARS) and Gay Lesbian Or Whatever (GLOW) last Wednesday, May 18, to organize a sexual-awareness-focused event that took place on the quad. It began roughly around 5 p.m. and ended with a bystander intervention training session in the Kraemer Conference Room of the Warch Campus Center at 8 p.m.
The objective of the event was to help spread awareness about the issue of sexual harassment that is prevalent at Lawrence. Students were encouraged to take a walk around the quad and read the fact boards that were placed at each corner of the surrounding area.
The fact boards read: “At LU: 12 percent of women and three percent of men reported attempted sexual assault; that is approximately 227 students out of the total number of students currently enrolled,” and “At LU: this year, there have been 21 reports and 3 complaints (twice as high as last year.)”
Between the fact boards, club members involved with the event had laid out pairs of shoes that equaled the number of students that were victims of sexual assault.
The open bystander intervention training that took place around 7 p.m. on the same day commenced in order to educate Lawrence University staff and students about how to recognize situations that are potentially dangerous to other individuals and take action in a manner that would, among other things, ensure the everyone’s safety.
“This event is significant because sexual assault is a massive issue on campuses across the United States,” shared sophomore and economics major Lewis Berger, who helped organize the event. “On top of that, it is a very real problem [at] Lawrence, and I believe a lot of people do not acknowledge how serious it truly is,” Berger further shared.
When asked about the main issue with regards to sexual assault on campus, Berger stressed that under-reporting and a general unawareness of what to look out for when placed in a situation of risk pose the greatest problems.
“Raising awareness about sexual assault is always needed on all college campuses,” shared junior and SigEp President Mahmoud Shaar. “It is a topic that is rarely talked about despite affecting such a big part of our student population.”
“We reached out to GLOW, MARS, [Student Alliance Against Sexual Harassment and Assault] SAASHA and [Sexual Harassment and Assault Resources & Eduation] SHARE to make sure that the voices of those that have been working on issues like this far before us are included,” added Shaar.
When asked about the difficulties that were faced in putting the event together, Shaar shared that attracting the student population to the event was the main obstacle the organizers faced.
“This was in part due to the fact that the event happened late in the term, when everyone is busy with midterms,” Shaar concluded, “and in part due to the fact that raising awareness about such issues usually does not attract big crowds because of its very serious nature.”