ASU organizations work to promote sexual assault awareness month

Sun Devil MVP and other organizations will host multiple events during April to promote sexual assault awareness

With Sexual Assault Awareness Month on the horizon, several ASU community members are planning events and aiming to raise awareness not just during April, but year-round as well.

One in five women in their fourth year of college said they had experienced an attempted or completed sexual assault while in college, according to the Office for Victims of Crime. There have been six crime alerts for sexual offenses on ASU's campuses since 2019 began, three of which happened in March. In 2018, seven crime alerts regarding sexual offenses were released.

Rachel Kuntz, a junior majoring in philosophy is the student coordinator for ASU's Sun Devil Movement for Violence Prevention, said her goal for the organization is “to unite students under the common goal of ending sexual violence," adding that she believes it's important to hear as many viewpoints as possible in order to understand different perspectives regarding this issue.

“We want to hear all sorts of voices so that when we’re putting on events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month or when we are talking to students about violence prevention, we have a lot of different perspectives,” she said. 

Kuntz said that the month will kick off with the Consent and Beyond event, which is held every year and will feature giveaways and the opportunity for attendees to meet members from other organizations present, one of which is Team One Love at ASU, an organization that focuses on educating students about abusive and unhealthy relationships.

Julie Alvarez, a senior studying biochemistry and president of Team One Love at ASU, said via email that it’s important to raise awareness and be educated about violence because that will lead to prevention. 

“Sexual Assault Awareness Month is important because sexual violence is a serious issue that unfortunately impacts too many students at ASU, but in talking about the problem, raising awareness and learning more about violence, we can start to prevent it and change the culture,” she said. 

Kuntz said that other events during the month will include films discussing sexual violence, events centered around art, open mics for people to talk about sexual violence prevention and other events. 

“I obviously want people to come to the events, I want to get as many numbers as possible, I want people to be interested, but, I also try to focus on the quality of the interactions over the quantity of the interactions," she said. "So, if I can have someone come to an event and have them change their mind about something or think about something in a new way or have them just feel supported in a way they haven’t felt supported yet, I really value that.” 

Aaron Krasnow, associate vice president and director for ASU Health Services, said it's important to treat every month as an awareness month and understand that there's also always something to do during the other 11 months of the year. 

"My opinion is that we should treat every month as an awareness month and then certain months, like April in this case, offers us an opportunity to create additional platforms for conversations," he said. "But I have always believed, and I believe I'm not alone in this regard here at ASU, that we don't want to just focus on April as the month in which we talk about sexual violence or sexual violence prevention."

Students experiencing sexual or domestic violence have access to confidential resources, including the Victim Advocate office in the ASU Police department, ASU counseling and ASU health services. Additionally, Krasnow said organizations like Sun Devil MVP are essential to the community. 

"They're necessary in order to raise awareness (and) to identify resources that exist in the community so that people who are survivors of violence know how to get help and to keep the pressure on all of us to ensure that none of us are bystanders to a culture or a community that tolerates violence," he said. 

Kuntz said that when it comes to making an impact, education is the first step, followed by important discussions.

“People think that they have to start really big or that they have to do this big thing or that they have to make this a huge part of their life, but really every time you have a conversation with friends, every time you reconsider your own views … it really has to start from within,” she said.  

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