Sexual assault awareness brought to the forefront

Following a sexual assault concerning Oakland students recent reported at Beacon Hill Apartment complexes and reports at college campuses across the nation, awareness is vital. 

Oakland University began Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) with a week of events from April 4 to April 8 focused on education and resources for survivors. 

The week included speakers like Dr. Jacquelyn White and panel discussions by the Violence and Abuse Resource Consortium (VARC). 

Most of the events of the week were sponsored by the Center for Student Activities, the Gender and Sexuality Center, VARC, Graham Health Center and Student Congress.

Other organizations also set up their own events to help acknowledge SAAM. 

The resident halls showed the film “The Hunting Ground” concerning sexual assault on college campuses.

Sororities Alpha Delta Pi and Alpha Sigma Tau coordinated an event featuring speakers from HAVEN of Oakland County.  The event was held on Sunday, April 3 and was called the “Sexual Assault Awareness Talk.” 

“The talk dealt with sensitive topics including sexual assault, compliance to sexual activities and being safe,” Anna Fooy, public relations for Alpha Delta Pi, said. “This is something that needs to be made aware to everyone, especially on a college campus.” 

Though the event was not officially part of Oakland’s SAAM, it was planned timely. 

“The timing of the event was no accident,” Rebecca Rice, director of philanthropy for Alpha Sigma Tau, said. “We planned the event during SAAM for a reason — to bring awareness and education about the issue to campus.”

Oakland’s SAAM events also included Take Back the Night, presented by the Gender and Sexuality Center and HAVEN Consent Training. 

The Clothesline Project was also presented throughout the week.  The project involves survivors of violence or sexual assault decorating a shirt expressing their emotions in relation to their assault or attack. 

On April 18, SAAM activities will continue with Denim Day. 

National Denim Day is held on April 27 though the CSA moved up the date in order to get more students involved before the final week of the semester. 

Students are encouraged to wear denim in support of those who have faced sexual assault and to raise awareness. 

Donations of gently used denim or money will be accepted in Fireside Lounge on April 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Donations can also be dropped off at the CSA office throughout the day. 

Those who pledge their support on GrizzOrgs or during the day will receive ribbons and stickers. 

All donations will go directly to HAVEN of Oakland County and Turning Point in Macomb County. 

“We’ve been supporting Oakland University Student Congress’ ‘It’s On Us’ campaign which they started back in September,” Jean Ann Miller, director of Center for Student Activities and Leadership Development, said. “Keeping it in the forefront for everyone to know that this definitely should not be part of a college campus but, unfortunately, it is.”

Miller hopes that the message behind this week’s events will extend beyond the week and SAAM. 

“We need to sustain the programs, sustain the fact that when you have these months or weeks that the issue doesn’t go away after the month is over or the week is over,” Miller said. “The most important thing is making sure that we get the information out to our students, even faculty and staff, about the awesome resources that are available on campus.”