Sexual Assault Awareness Month Speakers, events aim to raise awareness

By: Hannah Sgambellone ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of | Sexual Assault Awareness Month is an annual campaign dedicated to promoting consent, eliminating rape culture and educating individuals on sexual assault.

Though it was once a taboo topic of conversation, campus rape is now a much more common subject of conversation and controversy.

After media-grabbing preventative measures such as Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You” and the documentary film “The Hunting Ground,” sexual assault on college campuses can no longer be ignored. This April, Xavier is taking several steps to combat sexual assault on and off campus.

Xavier hosted awareness-raising events such as the Phallacies male theater troupe, who spoke on men’s role in ending rape culture. On April 20th, students will have the opportunity to both stand in solidarity with survivors (men and women) of sexual assault and to protest the violent crimes these people have experienced in the Take Back the Night March that will begin at Bellarmine Chapel.

The Take Back the Night March is a movement that began in the 1970s, with groups of women in Brussels and Philadelphia marching the streets of their respective cities at night to protest the lack of action against perpetrators of sexual assault. Take Back the Night uses its history of women banding together to bring about change in the way that campus rape and sexual assault is perceived and approached. The event is geared toward protesting and preventing sexual violence in all its forms. There is a citywide march taking place in April, and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion encourages students to participate.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month continues at Xavier with the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes on April 22, a solidarity event geared primarily toward a male audience.

Finally, on April 28, Kennedy Auditorium will be hosting special guest speaker Mike Pistorino, a sexual violence activist speaking on The Hero’s Tool Guide to Ending Sexual Violence. Pistorino is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and continues to be a speaker and advocate for survivors. Those who may have experienced sexual abuse on or off campus are reminded that the Center for Diversity and Inclusion offers confidential advocacy and protection resources and encourages victims to reach out. The Title IX office also continues to be a safe place for male and female victims of sexual assault to report.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2016 concludes with the promise from the Center for Diversity and Inclusion that there will also be continued prevention education and training next year throughout the school year. It is the beginning steps taken by a community committed to preventing sexual violence and protecting its students.

According to the movement, these opportunities to be educated about sexual assault and stand in solidarity with victims of this violence move Xavier toward becoming a community truly for and with others.