In conjunction with the Division of Student Affairs, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center hosted a presentation yesterday to promote awareness of sexual violence issues on campus.
Held in Rackham auditorium, the two-hour event was intended to shed light on various campus-wide efforts to combat sexual assault and related cases.
The presentation featured Assistant Attorney General Ignacia Moreno and Department of Justice representative Susan Williams, Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones and Department of Public Safety Director Ken Magee.
The Campus Grant Program, which looks to improve outreach to underrepresented student groups, was highlighted in the presentation as was its collaboration with SafeHouse Center — a non-profit organization, which strives to improve service for international students whose language barriers may make it difficult to report sexual violence crimes.
The event also showcased a video created by SAPAC called “A Common Voice,” which told stories of survivors of sexual assaults and proposed various tools to help avoid situations and environments conducive to such crimes.
University Vice President for Student Affairs Royster Harper opened the event by discussing the importance of bringing awareness to the issue of sexual assault.
“Breaking the silence around sexual violence is a critical strategy and prevention,” Harper said. “Part of our gathering today is one more way in which we can end or continue to break the silence. Our ability to create a safe community, to hold perpetrators responsible for his or her crime, requires that we shift our conversations from how he or she let that happen, to how we, as a community, let that happen.”
Harper also highlighted the importance of SAPAC’s role on campus as an organization that promotes a community that doesn’t allow sexual violence.
“(SAPAC has) worked hard to create programs and services, to implement institutional policies, and to create legislative initiatives that truly can make a difference.”
Moreno lauded SAPAC’s continuous efforts to help reach out to those victims of sexual assault — currently the most underreported crime in the country.
“It is one of the premiere programs, which is why the attorney general asked that I visit this campus in recognition of the great work that is being done here,” Moreno said. “It is a comprehensive program, it has early intervention, it brings together not only SAPAC but also folks who deal with health and housing issues.”
Magee added that efforts are being made by the Department of Public Safety to enable the collection of data on sexual assault crimes for analysis while maintaining the anonymity of sexual assault victims.
“We work collaboratively with SAPAC and other entities on campus to develop an anonymous report form,” Magee said. “A lot of input went into creating that form where we can capture the spirit of reporting statistical data and be able to talk frankly about sexual assaults and statistics that surround sexual assault.”