Students discuss sexual assault, interpersonal violence

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Marshall University students met April 2 at the Memorial Student Center to discuss the various ways of intervening and preventing instances of interpersonal violence in their community.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, only 10 percent of all sexual assault victims on college campuses report their assaults to local authorities, making rape one of the most under-reported crimes in the United States.

April is nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and advocates of ending interpersonal violence have worked to bring the issue of sexual assault into the mainstream discussion during this month. This year’s theme, “I Ask”, stresses the importance of asking for consent.

College campuses across the country are attempting to curb incidents of sexual assault by better educating students on the subject of consent, a sexual education topic that is only required to be discussed in eight of the 24 states that mandate sex education. West Virginia is one of the eight states that requires consent to be discussed in sex education.

The Bringing in the Bystander workshop, sponsored by Marshall’s Women’s Center, focused on establishing a community of responsibility surrounding the issues of sexual and relationship violence. Students engaged in various exercises designed to address the many possible ways they could intervene in situations of sexual violence.

During the event, where recent incidents, such as the trial of ex-Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, and historical incidents, such as the Stoke Hall gang rape at the University of New Hampshire, were discussed, students also had open discussions about how they could prevent similar incidents from occurring on their own campus.

“Sexual violence is happening within all of our social environments,” said Claire Snyder, program coordinator of the Women’s Center. “These incidents are not always happening in a dark alley by a stranger. Real life is not like a Lifetime movie.”

This issue is not solely about women, but is about all individuals who encounter sexual assault in their life, according to Snyder. Individuals must listen to all sides in order to gain a full perspective on the issue, Snyder said.

“If we are not willing to listen to those other perspectives, then we will never learn and broaden our understanding of the issue as a whole,” Snyder said.

Blake Newhouse can be contacted at [email protected]