BYU raises sexual assault awareness in month-long event

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BYU Women’s Services and Resource Center teamed up with the Title IX office and the BYU ROTC to participate in the nationwide Sexual Assault Awareness Month this April.

Fliers and posters displayed around the campus facts and myths surrounding sexual assault. The campaign featured an information booth and a wall where people could pledge to stand up against sexual assault.

“Donating at the booth was fun,”accounting student David Grant said, “because rather than selling a product I was bringing awareness about this important topic,” BYU .

Grant has actively participated in several sexual assault awareness campaigns on campus. He feels passionate about women’s services and awareness because of his three sisters. In his opinion, the Women’s Services and Resources Center is the perfect opportunity for him to get involved.

Women’s Services and Resources Director Tiffany Turley said the campaign was a great first step in raising awareness for what can sometimes be a tricky topic to address.

“Having a pledge wall that people could come up to and sign, along with a booth where people could get more information, was a really good approach,” Turley said. “I think that the word ‘pledge’ is a strong word. It’s not something we take lightly.”

More than 400 people pledged to raise sexual assault awareness by the end of the campaign, according to Deputy Title IX Coordinator John Kwarm.

“We realize that there is so much more work to do and so many more students to reach, but we feel like we achieved our goal for this campaign,” Kwarm said.

The pledge wall was largely successful because of the support of the 35 to 40 BYU ROTC volunteers who helped run the booth and foster support for the pledge wall.

“We wanted to get involved to help stomp out these incorrect traditions in our culture and to promote fairness for our female teammates.” Lt. Col. Chanda Mofu said.

Mofu has experience with campaigns promoting awareness and services with the BYU ROTC. The goal of Sexual Assault Awareness Month was to help people feel comfortable reporting these crimes. The campaign promoted supporting victims and provided information to friends and family.

Nationwide, 68 percent of sexual assault crimes go unreported and 80 percent of people who are sexually assaulted know the offender, according to data on the Women’s Services and Resources website.

“A lot of people think that because BYU has the Honor Code and elevated moral standards that we’re immune from the perils of the world. Indeed, we are not,” Turley said. “We are a college campus just like anywhere else. It’s important that people be aware that unfortunately (sexual assault) still happens here.”

Students can most effectively get involved with this issue by learning to distinguish between myths and facts regarding this issue, according to data from the Women’s Services and Resources website.

“The more education there is, the less uncomfortable of a topic this is for people to talk about and the less hesitant people are to step forward to ask for help,” Turley said.

Students can expect big changes this next year from the Women’s Services and Resources Center. The center will revamp its Recapturing Beauty campaign to take a more holistic approach in the fall. Students can also expect the pledge wall to be back April 2016.

The Title IX office will participate this October in National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Kwarm said.

Women’s Services and Resources is located in Room 3326 in the Wilkinson Student Center and is always open for volunteers or those who need help or more information.

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