Tempe community supports National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

One in five women and one in 71 men have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control.


In an effort to combat this, ASU Police, student organizations, Tempe Police and local businesses are using April, also known as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, to advocate and educate on the issue.


Assistant Chief of ASU Police Michael Thompson said ASU is the first university in the state to participate in the Start by Believing campaign.



Start by Believing aims to bring public awareness to the issue of sexual crimes as well as send the message that victims are not at fault and should not feel like there would be consequences for reporting their attacker.


ASU Police got involved with the campaign when a member of the Association of Chiefs of Police from Prescott signed up for it.


“It was something that we believed in as well, so we adopted it,” Thompson said.


ASU President Michael Crow and ASU Chief of Police John Pickens both signed a formal proclamation written by Thompson to declare support of the campaign.

"(ASU) shares critical concern for victims of sexual violence and the desire to support their needs for justice and healing," the proclamation states.


Starting Wednesday, ASU Police will provide officers teal ribbons to wear, Thompson said.


ASU Police are just one group advocating for National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, he added.


“We’re part of it, but it's mainly been throughout the university,” he said. “We participate in the stuff throughout the year like (Rape Aggression Defense Training)."


Across all campuses, student-run groups are promoting National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention.


DPC Aware, a student-led club at the Downtown campus that aims to promote safety and wellness for students, and ASU Wellness are some of the groups that have decided to get involved.


On Monday, DPC Aware taped posters with markers attached outside of the Taylor Place dormitory so students can write their names down and pledge against sexual violence.


ASU Wellness is hosting the 10th annual Denim Day on Thursday, where students are encouraged to wear jeans as a protest against victim blaming.

According to Peace Over Violence, the company that runs Denim Day, the movement to wear jeans began when an 18-year-old Italian woman was raped. The Italian Supreme Court ruled that the victim was at fault because she wore tight jeans, and therefore gave consent.


Students can pick up Denim Day stickers throughout the week, attend informational panels and get free STI/HIV tests on the Downtown and Tempe campuses.


The Condom Olympics, hosted by HEAL International, took place Tuesday on Hayden Lawn at the Tempe campus.

The Condom Olympics were a series of interactive activities that educated students about proper condom use, with games such as a condom water balloon toss.


Biological sciences major Josh Bollschweiler of HEAL International said students received hands-on information about condom durability, STD prevention and the steps of condom application.

“Instead of just watching somebody demonstrate a condom, we’re actually giving them an opportunity to handle it,” he said.


While Tempe Police officers are advocating for different sexual awareness campaigns than ASU police, the two departments will work together throughout the month.


Both departments are working with ASU organizations and Greek life to hold events and presentations.


Tempe Police Sgt. Michael Pooley said leaders of Greek organizations asked police to speak with fraternities and sororities about sexual assault in the beginning of April.


A Tempe Police department was created specifically to handle sexual assault cases with officers trained on how to work with the victims and encourage them to report the attacks, Pooley said.

“We have a Special Victims Unit,” he said. “They are very good at what they do. They are very caring.”

The two departments will be attending some of the same events and wearing teal pins and ribbons throughout the month, but instead of speaking to ASU students, Tempe Police has reached out to businesses in downtown Tempe.


The majority of businesses that Tempe Police spoke to agreed to use teal napkins that the police department provided. Tempe Police also gave the local businesses flyers and cards for customers to take, Pooley said.


Many liquor-selling establishments such as bars and gas stations are part of the Tempe business support, Pooley said.


“A lot of the sexual assaults that we see come from intoxication,” Pooley said. “We want people to be aware of these dangers.”


Sexual assault has increased over recent years, and is usually committed by an acquaintance or in a situation of date rape, Pooley said.

To spark an informative conversation about the increased risk, Tempe Police put teal ribbons on their patrol cars, he added.


Along with the ribbons, Tempe Police hopes to further spread the word via use of social media. Pooley said the department’s Twitter handle, @TempePoliceFire, will tweet daily about different programs, campaign partners, sexual assault hotlines and more.

Reach the reporter at chelsey.ballarte@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @chelseyballarte

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