New Augustana Students’ Association-led awareness week aimed to create awareness regarding sexual violence
To address the major issue of sexual violence on campus, the Augustana Students’ Association (ASA) organized Sexual Violence Awareness Week. The week focused on generating awareness and educating students about sexual assault.
The week started off with a speaker series consisting of Yvonne Becker, Randal Nickel and Dean Allen Berger. Becker provided useful facts and figures about sexual violence whereas Nickel provided students with information on available resources and Berger urged students to be part of the I Believe You Campaign and I Pledge Campaign.
In addition to the speaker series and the campaigns, there was an informative session on Myths, Facts and Scenarios regarding sexual violence and the Why I March campaign. The week wrapped up with the Take Back the Night March at the Chamber of Commerce.
When asked about the initiative of Sexual Violence Awareness Week, ASA VP Academic Hope Mcdonald said that “before last year, the dialogue on this campus regarding sexual violence was that it does not happen here.”
McDonald acknowledged that changing the culture at Augustana will take a substantial amount of time but hopes that Sexual Violence Awareness Week will start the process of getting students to talk about this topic and to spread awareness of sexual violence.
A major purpose of the week was to “eradicate and break down the myths about sexual assault and how serious it is,” according to Mcdonald who adds, “It is my hope that Augustana Against Sexual Violence continues to plan and facilitate other workshops, events, and an awareness week so the message of ending sexual violence is heard by many students for many years to come.”
Amal Chehayeb, a French language lecturer at Augustana, said, “I believe that Sexual Violence Awareness should not be limited to only one week. Many people are victimized on a daily basis. Women, girls, and children of all genders need to be able to live with dignity and respect. Violence in any shape or form is an attack on basic human rights. Sexual violence in particular destroys one’s self-worth, one’s trust in the world and in other human beings.”
Chehayeb added that “students beginning kindergarten can learn to respect one another and see one another as equals. Society is the proverbial village raising the child. This village is our government, our laws, our school systems and our own homes. Prevention is the best remedy, and prevention is a cycle that begins at home and extends to the immediate as well as global surroundings.”