For the month of April, something different was added to the Schwitzer Student Center. According to Director of Student Support and Title IX Coordinator Anne Moelk, an art installation called “What Were You Wearing?” has been set up with the intention of visually drawing attention to Sexual Assault Awareness Month— and, according to Moelk, it’s just one of many efforts the university is undertaking to spread awareness throughout April.
“We have students who have come here because they feel that UIndy offers them a lot. We want to be able to provide them with as much academic and general social information to help them better their lives,” Moelk said. “And this would certainly be one way to do that.”
According to Moelk, people in the more traditional college age range, from 18 to 24, statistically are more likely to experience sexual assault and harassment in their life. Furthermore, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, every 98 seconds, someone experiences sexual assault. Additionally, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college.
“It tends to be an issue that is swept under the rug,” Moelk said. “It’s an uncomfortable topic. But just because it’s an uncomfortable topic, it certainly doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t talk about it.”
As a result, the university is featuring (or has featured) four major programs throughout the month of April which bring the conversation of sexual violence into the spotlight. The first was the installation.
“A victim is never to blame in those situations,” Moelk said. “The installation helps to end victim blaming. It also helps people understand that even if someone is dressed in a way that might be seen as provocative, it doesn’t mean that they deserved to be assaulted.”
Another event on April 9 featured nonprofit organization Speak About It, who came in to illustrate experiences of sex and sexual assault, as well to clarify what consent actually entails. The members of the organization read testimonies from real people who had been sexually assaulted to bring the reality of the situation to the audience. Freshman political science and communications major Hilary Bauer said she appreciated the thoroughness of the presentation.
“The presenters conveyed their message effectively by using a variety of scenarios. They were inclusive of the LGBT community while reading the stories of individuals,” Bauer said. “This allowed for every person to feel impacted by the presentation, as it reached a large audience.”
On April 13, an event called the Consent Game was held, in which the audience listened to stories and deliberated over whether further consent was needed in the sexual scenario. Again, the goal was to clarify consent. On the 18, the university hosted a luncheon on religion and sexual assault, and how to reconcile the two when such a traumatizing event occurs. Lastly, advocates from Beacon of Hope Crisis Center are on campus for the entire month, offering instant help for people who need it.
“Keeping track of one another and looking after one another is a huge way to prevent sexual violence,” Moelk said.
For Moelk, sexual assault awareness is a year-round issue. According to Bauer, events like the ones featured this month truly help to make students more aware of sexual assault.
“The candidness of the stories told and the performances had the largest impact on me,” Bauer said. “They made them real and poignant.”
Students can find more information about sexual assault resources on campus by visiting uindy.edu/campus-life/titleIX.