Update: 4:30 pm, 4/12/17, Wednesday
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS — About 4,000 students came together at the UI to discuss physical health. It’s part of events on campus promoting Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The university partnered with McKinley Health Center to provide students with health resources like physical checkup and health education services.
Nurses, campus police and counseling centers set up more than 80 information booths to educate students.
Event coordinators say it’s also a chance for students to speak with health leaders about internships and possible career options in the health industry.
Original: 6:00 pm, 4/4/17, Tuesday
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS — April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Colleges across the U.S. are getting students to talk about it.
UI leaders want students to recognize what sexual assault really means. It’s hosting more than 40 events this month to help students recognize the issue.
It’s helping all of its students have conversations about sexual assault, but they want those conversations to turn into a part of the culture to prevent assault as well.
“One-in-five women and one-in-sixteen men will experience an actual or attempted sexual assault sometime during their college career.”
A staggering number considering there are more than four million college students in the U.S. alone. But, the statistic is something UI leaders are trying to change on campus.
“There’s a very narrow definition of what sexual assault is. Because many people don’t talk about it or think about it, many people still believe that consent is merely the absence of a ‘no,’ when consent is really the presence of an enthusiastic, knowing ‘yes.'”
Students are getting involved in combating the misconception.
“I know a survivor and their story was really impactful in my own life and I wanted to do something about it. I also got involved because I believe that representation is important. A friend came up to me and said, ‘Hey, I have something to explain to you. This is really personal to me and I just need somebody to talk to.'”
That’s where some say prevention and healing start; with a conversation.
“Students want to talk about this. There are some conversations that schools don’t want to have in a comprehensive way that discusses consent in healthy relationships. It’s a conversation that sometimes parents don’t want to have.”
Molly McLay is the assistant director at the Women’s Resources Center (WRC). She says there is no excuse for this to happen and believes a change in people’s attitudes and actions starts with conversations about sexual assault.
“Victim blaming, that happens and self-blame, as a part of that around sexual assault when alcohol is involved or when it’s someone the person knows. It can make a culture of silence which can contribute to the problem.”
That silence is what UI leaders are trying to change. Students Against Sexual Assault is hosting a speaker series at Courtyard Cafe, Tuesday, at 7 pm.
WRC provides students with several resources including putting students in touch with long-term counseling, options of reporting assault to the university or police and working with students on academic accommodations in some cases.