UW Oshkosh will be hosting 13 events in April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month; the student organization, Campus for Awareness and Relationship Education will also be hosting informational meetings each Monday in April from 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Events include a poster contest sponsored by Peer Wellness Educators; “Cover the Cruiser” sponsored by Campus Victims Advocate Ciara Hill and University Police; and a Women of Color rally that will discuss dating violence in the Hmong community.
Campus Victims Advocate Ciara Hill said Sexual Assault Awareness Month is important because it increases student awareness about how to prevent sexual assaults.
“The best thing you can do is to do your part and make sure you’re knowledgeable and familiarize yourself with resources, so you can be that support for someone if you have a friend that has experienced sexual assault,” Hill said.
Assistant Director of Health Promotion Juliana Kahrs said she and Women’s Center Director Alicia Johnson are assembling a campus leadership team of students, faculty and staff to assess campus sexual violence prevention and response.
“The Culture of Respect team will work with our campus leadership team to identify priorities and develop an action plan,” Kahrs said. “Our campus leadership team will implement changes over the course of a year and then complete the assessment again to see how far we have come. From start to finish, this initiative will take approximately two years.”
The Culture of Respect Collective is a national initiative focused on ending campus sexual violence.
Hill said she is partnering with the UP, CARE and UMatter to sponsor the “Cover the Cruiser” event on April 10 from 11-1 p.m., where students will be able to pledge that they will always ask for consent.
“What this is is a way for students to be aware that, ‘Okay [police are] someone I can trust,’” Hill said. “That’s a big barrier in students coming forward and seeking justice legally because they’re afraid of that process and what’s going to happen when they go to the police moving forward.”
Kahrs said the poster contest was created as a way for students to share their ideas about how the campus can better respond to sexual assaults.
UWO McNair Scholar Amanda Vue will be presenting her research on dating violence in the Hmong community at the Women’s Center from 4 to 5 p.m. on April 17.
“As a member of the Hmong community, I saw firsthand the effects of domestic violence,” Vue said. “It is considered a taboo topic, and it didn’t help that the patriarchy was rooted deep into family traditions and beliefs.”
Vue said she surveyed Hmong adults between the ages of 18 and 30 regarding their thoughts, perceptions and attitudes on dating violence.
“I was able to collect about 62 participants in the survey, many of whom were females, and interview three Hmong females,” Vue said. “Many of them agreed that it was a serious issue in the Hmong community, where there needs to be more education within the older generation to understand the patriarchal values placed in the Hmong culture.”
Hill said the University offers options for victims of sexual assault including the Counseling Center and rape aggression defense classes.
Hill said the Counseling Center is an excellent resource because they can provide ongoing counseling.
“I see students recurrently, but they are able to get to the core of the trauma, and they’re confidential,” Hill said.
Hill said Rape Aggression Defense [RAD] classes are self-defense classes that help victims regain a sense of security after experiencing a trauma.
“Some people that have experienced sexual assault think the only way for them to feel safe is making sure they can protect themselves,” Hill said.
Hill said sexual assault is propagated by rape culture in the United States, where victims are blamed or not taken seriously.
“After talking to each of the clients I try to make sure they know that it wasn’t their fault and that they’re not alone,” Hill said. “Other people have experienced what they have experienced, and it’s going to be okay. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”