Don’t ignore sexual violence

Sarah Buckley

I remember attending the student production of “The Vagina Monologues” earlier this year and being particularly moved by the skits that directly addressed the issue of sexual assault and violence. At the end of the program, the actors asked audience members to stand if they had ever been victims of sexual assault or if they had ever known anyone who had been a victim. The night that I attended, there was a great shuffling of feet and creaking of chairs as almost every member of the audience stood. I was astounded by the number of people who had been affected, either directly or indirectly, by this crime.
From April 24-30, our campus was decorated with several eye-catching pieces of information regarding sexual assault and violence, in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Week. The progressive groups combined their efforts to create T-shirts, buttons and pamphlets to help raise awareness around campus, and Lawrence students also participated in several events throughout the week to honor this important cause.
For example, early in the week Amnesty International and the Volunteer Center hosted a student who shared publicly her story of surviving sexual violence. The Health Center sponsored a series of skits called “Perceptions,” which centered on different situations of sexual assault. V-Day promoted this event by creating buttons for students to wear. Amnesty International made sexual assault the subject for many of its petitions this month and also continued to disperse white ribbons to promote awareness of sexual violence. And amidst all the events, literature regarding sexual violence donated by the Sexual Assault Crisis Center was available to students. Events such as these are important to raise awareness for those who have not yet been affected by sexual violence, and also to ensure those students who have been affected that they are not alone in this community.
Kass Kuehl, a student who has been influential in promoting the events of Sexual Assault Awareness Week, spoke to me regarding the importance of the events: “Sexual Assault Awareness Week is most important in its ability to remind us that we need to work to change issues of injustice. These problems are not just around us, but among us – the message of Sexual Assault Awareness Week was to do something about them.”
Information regarding precautions to take against sexual assault can be found at the Health Center. Lawrence prohibits any form of sexual assault and urges students who have been violated to press criminal charges as well as make a formal complaint to the university.