This preventionist is back to school, literally. Last fall, I started graduate school. Here I find myself in the interesting position of being both a professional in the field and a student. My first day back on campus it became clear to me that these days college is a whole other ballgame. Campus sexual violence has become a HUGE topic and it shows. Just a few minutes into my first visit I saw an “I <3 Consensual Sex” poster. I was ecstatic! I wasn’t even the one who had put it up. Campuses really are talking about this issue.
Talk about worlds colliding. With SAAM 2015 coming right up in April, my world has been very focused on campus sexual violence prevention. The issue is everywhere. Student activists are making a huge impact. The White House is talking about collective responsibility to end sexual assault. Media is running with coverage of campus activism and policy on a daily basis. Everyone is talking about creating safer campuses, and I just happen to be a student.
In my undergrad years, I was just learning one in four women would be sexually assaulted on campus. Someone gave me my first teal ribbon. I had no concept of prevention, but it felt like such a valuable issue to work to change. It was also the time in my life when many loved ones, far too many, would disclose their experiences of assault, violation and abuse. In our campus community, it was hard to know what resources were available and where to go for support.
This time around the campus setting feels a lot different. I know about the Clery Act requirements and my rights under Title IX. I see scheduled speakers and students events as prevention programming. A poster on campus has healthy sexuality messaging. When I walk around campus I think about climate and culture. When I meet my peers, I think about social norms in our community. Being a student on campus feels like déjà vu, and since the topic has been everywhere many of us have been revisiting this topic of campus with new insight and perspective.
Planning our Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) materials was a little like déjà vu too. In the past, SAAM has focused on campus sexual violence prevention, but this time around it feels like a whole other ballgame. There are many new initiatives, resources and requirements. There is new research, and many new and powerful voices involved. It’s pretty amazing, and it’s also just A LOT to keep up with. That’s why it seems like the timing couldn’t be better for SAAM 2015. This campaign focuses on campus sexual violence prevention, and the materials are meant to be a tool to help out partners look at this topic with fresh eyes. Many of the resources are already posted online, and the brochure is landing in mailboxes across the country. Be on the look out!