Exactly 1,321 ribboned blue circles flew in the breeze on Hayden Lawn Monday morning, each representing the number of sexual assault victims at ASU during the 2013-14 academic year.
Tempe Undergraduate Student Government flew these blue circles as part of Devils Fight Back, a week-long sexual safety awareness event that seeks to emphasize the need for students to be aware of sexual safety and the importance of protecting themselves and others.
Brian Salerno, Tempe USG Vice President of Student Services, said the whole point of the week is to educate students on the issues on college campuses involving sexual violence and how to keep themselves safe.
Devils Fight Back, which runs from Nov. 17 to Nov. 20, coincides with the national “No More” campaign, which is led by national and local groups to speak about domestic violence.
Tempe USG is collaborating with various organizations, including well as the ASU Police Department, for different events throughout the week.
“We are doing an interactive tabling event on Wednesday with the ASU police department, which is then followed by three half-hour self-defense classes taught by ASU police," he said. "It’s really exciting to get the police department on board and help us with this cause. On Tuesday we have a peer taught sexual assault prevention class educating students on how to avoid these incidents but also being in group settings and stuff like that.”
Tempe USG has partnered with Maricopa County to provide free STI testing on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and a guest speaker will talk to students from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
“We are bringing in a guest speaker, former NFL kicker Nick Lowery, who is part of the Kansas City Chiefs hall of fame, and he goes around the country and he talks about the issues on college campuses and the culture and how we as students can create a safer climate here and prevent these issues from occurring in the future,” he said.
Justin Zeien, Tempe USG health and wellness director, said the main thing he hopes the week’s events achieve is to bring awareness to sexual violence on campus.
“Really it is an issue that is brushed under the rug, and we are trying to bring it to light here as well as provide training and resources to students that either know people who were afflicted by sexual violence or themselves,” Zeien said.
Getting students to understand what actually constitutes sexual violence is a key issue for the events of the week, Zeiden said.
“We really want them to have a better understanding of what constitutes sexual violence, what is consent and we are having a training on Tuesday that goes over what proper consent is and how to be an active bystander in the community,” he said. “So if you are at a bar, perhaps, on Mill Avenue and you see a situation, you will know how to react, how to refer to resources, how to inform the proper authorities instead of just standing by idly and letting something happen.”
Shay Kak, Tempe USG special events director, said she hopes people will take away how important sexual safety is and that it isn’t something that just happens to women.
“I’m really hoping that everyone learns about the awareness and how many people have been affected,” she said. “Not only women but the men, too. I was shocked by the numbers myself as to how many men have been affected by sexual violence and sexual assault here on campus.”
With some of the events that have happened on campus this year, Kak said she hopes students will help shine a light on the issue.
“I’m hoping with this week people will take away the importance of it and why it needs the attention and especially with some of the events that have taken place this year,” she said.
CORRECTION: Due to a source error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated who organized the NO MORE campaign and what it is about. This version has been updated with the correct information.