Sexual assault is a major concern on college campuses across the country. One in four college women report surviving rape or attempted rape at some point in their lifetime. These are anonymous reports on multi-campus surveys sampling thousands of college students nationwide (Fisher, Cullen & Turner, 2000; Tjaden & Thoennes, 2006). This rate has remained the same since studies in the 1980s. In one year 300,000 college women, over 5 percent of women enrolled in colleges and universities, experience rape.
Universities are tasked with educating students and addressing sexual violence on their respective campuses. Fraternity and Sorority Life along with the Greek Council took the lead in hosting national speaker Angela Rose who presented “Shattering the Silence of Sexual Assault.” Over 700 students attended the program that took place on January 21 in the Student Union Pegasus Ballroom.
Rose was abducted at knife point outside a suburban Chicago shopping mall when she was 17 years old. She was assaulted by a repeat sex-offender on parole for murder and was eventually released by her attacker. The anguish of her abduction was immediately magnified by anger and a strong sense of injustice at her treatment by authorities. She founded the organization, “PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment,” to create education and action surrounding the issues of sexual violence and founded “Men Opposing Sexual Assault,” a student group that highlights the importance of men in the anti-sexual assault movement. Angela’s efforts have been profiled by CNN, The Today Show, and TIME Magazine to name a few.
“Angela is passionate about the topic of sexual assault,” stated Olivia Escalona, coordinator for Risk Prevention. “Her energy during her presentation was contagious. It was amazing to hear her story and learn the impact it made on her life. This impact has led to an even bigger change in our discussion and awareness of sexual assault.”
Krystal Vielman, Greek Council President, commented, “I felt like it was important to really clarify the differences between assault, violence, and rape because it puts a term with the action committed. It was great to hear someone telling their story because at that moment, you become more connected to the topic and start to feel more responsible in the risk reduction process. After hearing her speak, I now use her story as a reminder that it really can happen to anyone and anywhere and that being cautious is key.”
It is hoped that this program not only brings awareness and conversation, but calls on students to be active in addressing and the prevention of sexual assaults.