Bearkats Against Sexual Assault: Not in Our Community

Logo for Sexual Assault Awareness Month with clock, talk bubble and ribbon and message its time to talk about it!

Sam Houston State University will lead the fight against sexual assault in the community in a series of events in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Woman holding up her hand to say stop“Bearkats Against Sexual Assault: Not in Our Community” will feature events throughout April, including:

  • A pledge drive against violence in the SHSU Mall during the weeks of April 14 and 21
  • A documentary screening of “Red Blooded Men” and panel discussion on April 23 at 6 p.m. in the Olson Auditorium in AB4
  • Denim Day on April 23 to honor survivors and raise awareness
  • An “Ignite the Night” rally and march to the Walker County Courthouse on April 29 beginning at 5:30pm behind Lonestar Hall
  • A donation drive for SAAFE House, a local women’s shelter for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

The events are sponsored by 12 groups on campus and in the community, including the Crime Victims’ Institute, the Crime Victim Services Alliance, CJ Graduate Student Organization, University Police Department, Residence Life, Health Center, Graduate Student Psychology Organization, Counseling Center, Gamma Sigma Kappa, SAAFE House, Greek Life, and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Initiative.

Legs of men and women wearing denim pants.“Sexual assault is a problem that impacts the SHSU campus, the greater Huntsville community, and beyond,” said Nicole Wilkes of the Crime Victims Institute. “We need to come to together to support survivors and do our parts individually and as a community to prevent sexual violence.”

According to the National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS), one in six women and 1 in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape at some time in their lives. College students are particularly vulnerable, with research estimating that 20 to 25 percent of women will fall victim to these crimes during their college careers. Only five percent of college victims will report the crime to police.

Woman hugging a teddy bear.To promote action against sexual assault in the community, the Crime Victim Services Alliance will hold a pledge drive during the weeks of April 14 and 21, from Monday to Thursday, from 10 to 2 p.m. in the SHSU Mall area. Students, faculty and staff can sign a pledge card and banner vowing not to participate or be a bystander in sexual violence. The booth also will provide resources on sexual assault.

On April 23, the campus will participate in Denim Day, which encourages everyone to wear denim to raise awareness and support survivors. The event was triggered by a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The case received international attention and is used to focus the community at large on the legal definition of consent. Individuals who participate in this event can stop a table on the SHSU Mall area to pick up a button.

A documentary, “Red Blooded Men,” will be screened on April 23 in Olson Auditorium. Sponsored by PACTS5, a national movement to prevent sexual assaults and rapes in colleges, the documentary covers multiple aspects of college life from the male’s perspective. It enlightens audiences about the notions of masculinity and femininity and creates awareness about the increasing trend of sexual assault on campuses across America. The documentary will be followed by a panel discussion.

Lit candlesIgnite the Night, which is being held on April 29 for the third year in a row, is designed to promote awareness and honor survivors of sexual assault. It will feature a rally and march and include presentations by Jolene Miller, director of SAAFE House, a rape survivor and the University Police Department. The rally will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by a march to the Walker Country Courthouse.

During the events, donations of teddy bears will be accepted for SAFE House, a local resource for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Member of The Texas State University System