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University Events Raise Sexual Assault Awareness
Events to be held throughout April.
Kristine Goodrich, Mankato Free Press, 4-2-2016
MANKATO — Sexual Assault Awareness Month observances at Minnesota State University, Mankato kicked off a few days early with a new event targeted toward men.
The university’s Violence Awareness and Response Program organizes campus events throughout the year aimed at raising awareness about sexual violence and prevention. The department, led by Laura Schultz, is the most active in April partaking in a national awareness month.
A committee comprised of representatives from several university departments, student groups and community organizations planned the eight events being held on campus this year.
The observances started Wednesday with a new male-focused twist on the rally that annually culminates the month.
The Give Back the Night Rally featured speakers pushing the importance of men’s involvement in advocacy to end sexual violence.
The new event was the idea of gender and women’s studies graduate student Je-Shawana Wholley. While the month’s events tend to attract predominantly women, she wanted to do something to engage more men in the conversation.
The name of the rally was a derivative of the annual Take Back the Night Rally, which this year will be April 27. After hearing from speakers, participants will march around downtown to raise awareness and show support for victims, Schultz said. The event was moved from the campus to downtown last year in an effort to engage more members of the community.
The public is invited to all of the on-campus events as well.
Another new event this year is a “Let’s Taco ‘Bout Consent” lunch on April 12, at which attendees can get a free lunch while talking about sexual consent.
In addition to organizing awareness events, Schultz provides one-on-one support to Minnesota State Mankato students who have been the victims of sexual violence. She’s available, she said, to help both students who have experienced a recent assault as well as those struggling to cope with a bygone trauma. Schultz said she provides counsel to between about 70 to 100 students per year. A 2015 Association of American Universities survey found that 23 percent of female undergrads and 5 percent of male undergrads reported experiences of non-consensual sexual contact.
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