[ PHOTO WAS TAKEN BY BERNIE, I HAVE ANOTHER PHOTO OF THE CHALKBOARD AD. IF YOU NEED IT ]
On the third Thursday of September, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) hosts an annual campaign to raise awareness of sexual assault and educate students on recovery resources across campuses nationwide. Stevens’ Alpha Sigma Phi chapter partnered with Omega Phi Beta to hold a RAINN Day this past Thursday, September 15th. “Today is starting out kind of small,” said Tatiana Rosales of Omega Phi Beta. “This is actually the first time we are planning this event. It was originally initiated by Alpha Sig. when they collaborated with RAINN Day, which is a national cause. They invited Omega Phi Beta to participate as well, because our fight is raising awareness of violence against women. It ties in hand in hand.”
RAINN Day is not limited to the college campus. Any organization or community can participate in the campaign and they host events ranging from seminars to walk/runs to flash mobs. Stevens’ version of RAINN Day featured poetry readings and an informative presentation. “If it goes well this year, RAINN offered to send a speaker for next year. Right now, we’re starting with bracelets,” comments Tatiana.
College students are at the highest risk of experiencing sexual violence. According to RAINN, students have an increased risk of sexual violence occurring during the first few months of their first or second semesters, with more than half of the assaults occurring in August, September, October, and November. 11.2% of all students, whether at an undergraduate or graduate level, will have experienced rape and assault through physical force and violence. Sexual assault does not discriminate. “Instead of looking at it like statistics, look at it as just another poem. That it verifies what you know, that it highlights that this is still not resolved, not being pushed to be resolved, and how it is our duty to help,” said Benjamin Traskunov, of Alpha Sigma Phi.
The presentation explained not only the risk college-aged students are at today, but also prevention and ways to help someone recover from it, a topic that is not often touched upon in other assault presentations.
“There are two big categories that helps. One is physical, and one is emotional,” said Benjamin. “Of course, emotional is talking to this person, having them open up. Writing their thoughts down, or seeing the counseling center. But sometimes it takes something physical to help. Encourage them to do healthy activities. Sleep is the best medicine. If you’re sick, you sleep, and your body recycles things. If you’re tired, you sleep, you wake up with energy. Encourage them to take care of themselves. Once they feel ready to tell you this, they will tell you. And that can be a mix of more sleep, and a little bit of writing down thoughts. Or a lot of writing, and a little sleep. People will open up. Just keep trying things and know that there are different ways to connect with this person.”
The presentation also emphasized the CARE steps of preventing a potential sexual assault. CARE stands for the five ways to handle this situation: creating a distraction or asking directly to stop, refer to an authority, and/or enlist others to intervene. “We don’t want you to keep hearing the same things and thinking that it doesn’t matter anymore. Don’t let anything feel less just because you’re hearing it over and over again, because that’s still showing you that it’s still a problem,” says Tatiana.
There are many resources that are accessible to students on campus. The on-campus Mental Health Center, as well as campus police, is professionally trained to handle counseling and recovery from assault. “This year, Dean Kristie Damell, who’s Associate Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator, created ‘Don’t Stand By, Speak Up!’ campaign,” said Benjamin. The title ‘Title IX’, ensures that the campus stands beside the individual. Title IX ensure gender equality that falls under sexual assault and harassment. “This is the campaign Stevens has just created to highlight this. These are things that can happen on campus, just know to keep an eye out for them. Know that you can see something. Know that you can do something. Know that you can find these resources somewhere.”