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Guest Column: Sexual assault program rings true with support

In light of the recent sexual assaults on Ohio University’s campus, we would like to make sure that our campus and community members are aware of the various proactive programs that engage advocacy and awareness.

The Women’s Center Survivor Advocacy Program’s mission is “to create a SAFE campus for all through confidential advocacy, education and resources.” If you or a friend experience a sexual assault, domestic/dating violence or stalking, call to speak with a trained advocate who will be there to listen and support.

We provide a 24/7 hotline (597-SAFE) for crisis intervention as well as in-person crisis intervention (Monday-Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) at the McKee House. Additionally, we provide a safe, private space on campus for discussion, transportation arrangement to/from the hospital and personal support during the hospital exam. Peer advocates will also provide support during police interviews, investigations and/or judicial process. Our program also provides referrals to counseling and psychological services, development of a safety plan, support during follow-up care, resources for friends and family and assistance with housing options and class accommodations.

Additionally, we are dedicated to education. Every Thursday at noon, a Brown Bag Lunch & Learn takes place in the Women’s Center for everyone to openly discuss various topics, including “How to Help a Friend.” Additionally, September was dedicated to sexual assault awareness not only to raise awareness about the prevalence of sexual assault on campus, but to encourage us to think about what we can do to help reduce incidents of sexual assault.

Alex Leslie from the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center trained students on proactive solutions for preventing sexual assault through his “Men Can Stop Rape” program. He also helped to start a conversation with our male campus and community leaders on what they can do to prevent future incidents of sexual assault. Additionally, Cheryl Cesta trained women in personal safety and self-defense. She will be holding additional workshops on Oct. 26 and Nov. 3.  Lastly, the annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event encouraged men to join the fight to stop violence against women.

Lastly, at OU, we pride ourselves on providing an enlightening college experience, which demands a safe and healthy student environment. To help foster that environment, we are taking one of the country’s most proactive stances against sexual assault. One out of every four women attending college in this country will experience some kind of attempted or completed sexual assault, and many young men will find themselves under legal scrutiny because they did not understand the particulars of the crime. Therefore, the “Student Success Unless There’s Consent,” similar to the AlcoholEdu program, will provide an online sexual assault education/prevention program. While we may never fully eliminate sexual assault completely, we are committed to making our campus one of the safest in the nation. Through our other campus efforts and resources and “Student Success Unless There’s Consent,” we are becoming a nationwide model for a safer campus.

Simone Savannah is a graduate student studying cultural studies in education and is the graduate assistant for the Women’s Center Survivor Advocacy Program.

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