Events inform students about sexual assault

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The University of  Indianapolis Clothesline Project was held in support of survivors of domestic violence, dating violence and sexual assault on April 6. Students could come to the Schwitzer Student Center atrium to decorate a T-shirt with their choice of writing on it, which will stay hung in the atrium until the end of April. Spoken word artist Mariah Ivey performed her spoken word poem “Liberation” that evening. Ivey’s performance gave a perspective of sexual assault from the viewpoint of feminism.

The Step Up! Bystander program was held in Schwitzer Room 012 on April 7 and again in UIndy Hall B on April 15.  The event, held by Associate Dean of Students Kristin Weeden and Director of Student Support and Parent Programs and Title IX Coordinator Erin Stoner, suggested ways that students could help to prevent sexual assault and violence of any kind from happening. The event highlighted the “Step Up! Model,” which included five steps: “1. Notice the event 2. Interpret it as a problem 3. Assume personal responsibility 4. Know how to help and 5. Step Up!”

Students participated in the events, the Clothesline Project and Red My Lips in April.

Students participated in the events, the Clothesline Project and Red My Lips in April. Photos contributed by Erin Stoner

Stoner wants UIndy students to know how to observe effectively and locate signs of possible sexual assault in order stop the acts from happening.

“It is an important issue [sexual assault]. It’s a national issue, not just something we are dealing with on this campus, and it’s something that everyone should be aware of,” Stoner said. “If nothing else, I want students to know from this how to safely intervene if they are in a certain situation where they could help someone avoid this [sexual assault].”

A panel discussion titled “Does Rape Culture Exist?” was held in UIndy Hall A on April 12. Students could join in the discussion on whether or not they believed that rape culture exists and whether it is prevalent in our society. The Domestic Violence Network hosted the event and brought along popular media examples of how the Network believes that rape culture is present in society.

Students participated in the events, the Clothesline Project and Red My Lips in April.

Students participated in the events, the Clothesline Project and Red My Lips in April. Photos contributed by Erin Stoner

The Red My Lips event took place in the Schwitzer atrium on April 13. Students were invited by UIndy PACT to put on red lipstick in support of domestic violence and sexual assault victims. The students would then take their picture wearing the lipstick, which would be uploaded to UIndy PACT’s Twitter page. Students could also sign the PACT and receive a free UIndy PACT T-shirt. Stoner said that the message behind the Red My Lips event was to stop victim-blaming, meaning that no matter the suggestiveness of the clothing someone is wearing it is not an invitation to sex.

Stoner wants more students to become involved with UIndy PACT and become more aware of how to stop sexual assault.

“We are really trying to get the word out there, about just what PACT is,” Stoner said. “It has been about a year and a half now [since it was formed]. We really want students to get more involved, and we want more voices coming from students about sexual assault, how to stop it and creating those programs and initiatives rather than it coming from administrators. We want the students to be more impactful.”

A self-defense class was held in UIndy Halls B and C on Tuesday, April 26. UIndy Chief of Police David Selby instructed the class on several techniques and how students can use those to defend themselves against violence and sexual assault.

These Hands Don’t Hurt is an event that will be held on Smith Mall on Wednesday, April 27. The event is essentially a self-proclamation that students can make, saying that they will not use their hands to hurt other people. UIndy PACT will have cutout paper hands that students can sign and make statements on. All of the hand will be put on a display board for students, faculty and staff to see.

Students participated in the events, the Clothesline Project and Red My Lips in April.

Students participated in the events, the Clothesline Project and Red My Lips in April. Photos contributed by Erin Stoner

Take Back the Night is the closing event of Sexual Assault Awareness Month at UIndy. It will take place in McCleary Chapel on Wednesday, April 27, at 9 p.m. Students and survivors of sexual assault will be invited to speak, voluntarily, about their experiences with sexual assault and how that has affected them. Jamie Sivrais, founder of A Voice for the Innocent, also will come to speak about his personal experience with sexual assault.

Senior pre-occupational therapy major and a member of UIndy Keys Katie Mehrlich finds Sexual Assault Awareness month to be very important at UIndy.

“Sexual assault awareness is important because those who are affected by [it], their stories need to be heard. They need to be able to get help if they want it,” Mehrlich said. “If it’s shoved under the rug, then people aren’t going to speak out about it, and it’s just going to keep happening.”

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