Sexual Assault Awareness Month at UT Austin

By: Julianne Staine, Hymi Ashenafi, Jessica Barrera and Stacie Richard

 

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Take Back the Night, a rally supporting victims of sexual violence, took place Wednesday, April 8 at the University of Texas at Austin.

In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness month, the rally was hosted by UT’s Voices Against Violence as part of a series of events to raise public awareness.

The series includes nine programs focusing on preventing sexual assault, with an overall emphasis on consent.

Not On My Campus, a student-led initiative to end the silence surrounding sexual violence, was co-founded by UT students William Herbst, Edwin Qian and Ellen Cocanougher.

“Through a strong social media campaign, we were able to get our message out there and have students take pictures and sign our pledge,” accounting major Herbst said. “The main goal of Not On My Campus is to unite and educate students about rape culture in an effort to protect victims and put an end to it within our community.”

To get involved, students can sign a pledge online and share photos through social media with the words “Not On My Campus” written on their hands.

The movement originally began at Southern Methodist University when students reached out to student body president Ramon Trespalacios.

“Students reached out to me the first semester of my presidency and asked me why were there so many sexual assaults and what was the university doing about it,” Trespalacios said. “So I asked back, what are we as students doing about it?”

After calling a meeting with different organizations at SMU, Trespalacios and his fellow classmates launched the movement with three goals in mind: raising awareness, creating a sense of ownership of the issue, and calling for action.

“Not On My Campus allows each school to create their own events, have their own ideas implemented, and apply the movement to their campus,” Trespalacios said.

Current goals of UT’s Not On My Campus include self-defense classes and mentorship programs for students.

“We are trying to organize a program for orientation to teach incoming students about rape culture at a more personal level and have it available whenever they have questions or need help,” Herbst said. “We are also organizing efforts to go teach at high schools around Austin.”

By empowering students to become active and creating a supportive environment for survivors, the Not On My Campus initiative aims to end the silence around sexual assault.

“I hope Not On My Campus continues to inspire students across the nation,” Trespalacios said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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