JMU Should Have an Official Sexual Assault Awareness/Prevention Day

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JMU prides itself as the national model. I believe the university can do more to prevent sexual assault on AND off campus. All Dukes should be taught about consent and how to protect fellow students from potential attacks. The university needs to show that it’s serious about sexual assault. Why not start every semester with a day dedicated to protecting students against sexual violence? We should be the national model for sexual assault prevention. 

I believe the first Wednesday of every semester should be a campus-wide Sexual Assault Awareness Day. A brief description of my rationale and potential agenda for an official day are below:

Date: The first Wednesday of every semester.

Explanation: Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes will get their first syllabus day in. The same goes for Tuesday-Thursday classes. Students (likely) won’t have much of any homework to worry about. This also ensures each semester starts by joining everyone together to stand up against sexual assault.

Time: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. with an hour lunch break

Explanation: 10 a.m. is enough time for students to sleep in. The 4 p.m. ending leaves plenty of time to still go out Wednesday night. The hour lunch gives a nice break during what will be a deeply emotional day. It’s a mental break.

Agenda: 

10-10:30 a.m.: Opening remarks from President Alger, others that helped put the event together.

10:30-11:15 a.m.: Sexual assault survivors/friends of survivors share their stories.

11:15 a.m. – noon: How can we help? This includes talk on how bystanders can help. The discussion includes prevention as well as an explanation on how to support survivors. Consent should be discussed.

Noon-12:15 p.m.: Break into groups in different areas of campus.

12:15-1 p.m.: How should these incidents be reported? Discuss the reporting process,

1-2 p.m.: Lunch at your respective location.

2-3:30 p.m.: Group discussion. Mandatory topics include consent and resources for survivors. The small group setting allows for people to ask questions comfortably.

3:30-4 p.m.: Group debrief. Talk to your group leader about what did and didn’t go well during the day to improve next semester’s event. All students should also be given avenues to discuss sexual assault further over the course of the semester if they’re interested.

Explanation:

By creating an entire school-sponsored day around sexual assault prevention/awareness you’re sending a very clear message to students that James Madison University does not tolerate sexual assault. The school literally cancels a day of classes to address the issue. All students must attend like an assessment day. It’s doable. It’s a logistical challenge, but it’s worth the challenge.

The chance for sexual assault survivors to speak out both in small groups and on a larger scale is huge. Survivors never lose their voice, but going through a traumatic experience and having to remember that moment repeatedly during an appeals process or even counseling can temporarily dampen the voices of some. This event would give them a platform not just to be heard, but to have us truly listen. In some cases, they’d literally be a given a platform (stage) to stand upon and share their stories. They’d get a chance to have 20,000 kids standing around them saying, “We’re with you.”

For a full detailed explanation, visit https://conlinscontemplations.com/2018/07/06/jmu-sexual-assault-prevention-day/ 

The university has a chance to become a national leader for sexual assault awareness and prevention. I believe an official day to support students could go a long way toward changing JMU's campus culture. 

 



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