Rebels Against Sexual Assault will join thousands across the nation in this year’s campaign to “engage new voices” by hosting a variety of educational and discussion-driven events for national Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The national campaign “Engaging New Voices” puts the focus on involving more faith leaders, Greek life and other bystanders with preventing sexual assault.
RASA President Corbin Smith said she believes the events will help educate students on Ole Miss’ campus this month and spread how important this month is.
“The importance of Sexual Assault Awareness month is to spread awareness about consent, resources and sexual assault in general,” Smith said. “The hope is that people become more aware of what sexual assault is and become more sensitive to survivors of sexual assault.”
RASA will be hosting 10 events throughout the month of April. Some of the events include an LGBTQ Sexual Assault Panel, Nacho Fault taco night to discuss why it is never the survivor’s fault and Take Back the Night.
“Take Back the Night is probably our biggest event,” Smith said. “We are expecting around 200 people. I believe this is our biggest event because we have involvement from many different departments on campus. ROTC, Greek life and Health Promotions have all offered to volunteer their time and supplies for this event.”
Take Back the Night will be held on Wednesday April 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Grove. This event will include honoring survivors, a group art project, a walk and a glow stick vigil. This event is open to everyone.
The first nationally recognized Sexual Assault Awareness Month took place in April 2001.
Last month, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Brandi Hephner LaBanc visited a RASA meeting to explain the steps the university is taking to provide better resources for survivors of sexual assault, specifically hiring specially trained nurses and hiring another person in the Violence Prevention Office.
Many organizations around campus are involved in the Sexual Assault Awareness Month events. The counseling center helps plan events, and the University Police Department helps with the Take Back the Night march route. UPD and health promotions also donated money for T-shirts and food.
“The best way for students to become educated on sexual assault is to attend our events or request a peer education training session to a group they are a part of,” Smith said. “We have presented to Honors 101 classes, EDHE, Greek life, and we are open to presenting to any organization or class that welcomes us.”
Smith said the website, umsafe.olemiss.edu, also lists resources for survivors of sexual assault.
Teal is the color of sexual assault awareness, and teal ribbons will be handed out at the events to show support for survivors of sexual assault.
“Take Back the Night gives us the chance to show our solidarity for victims of sexual assault while also letting others know that we as a community will not let assault be normalized,” international studies major Sarah Ryanne Kavanagh said.
Kavanagh said she is excited to attend the Take Back the Night event. She said events like Take Back the Night show the community it’s OK to talk about sexual assault and how everyone can change the culture and conversation surrounding sexual assault on our campus.
“Whenever we have conversations about sexual assault or participate in awareness events, we are taking steps to end the problem,” Kavanaugh said.