OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi is observing 2010 Sexual Assault Awareness Month with several activities designed to raise public understanding about the problem of sexual violence and to educate participants on how to prevent sexual assault and rape.
Activities include Jeans for Justice Day on Tuesday (April 20) and a display of items from the Clothesline Project on April 29-30.
“Sexual Assault Awareness Month is an important acknowledgement of the impact of sexual victimization upon the lives of women and men,” said RoSusan Bartee, chair of the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Women and associate professor of educational leadership. “Such public acknowledgement is a key component toward demystifying the private shame associated with this phenomenon which, in effect, serves as a venue of support for those who may suffer in silence.”
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center has designated April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This year’s SAAM campaign focuses on preventing sexual violence on higher education campuses.
College students experience disproportionately high rates of sexual violence, and national statistics indicate that one in five college women will be a victim of sexual assault by the time she graduates, said Mary Carruth, director of the UM Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies.
“The spirit of Sexual Assault Awareness Month is commensurate with the principles of our University Creed,” Carruth said. “Sexual assault is an undeniable fact on our campus, as it is at all colleges and universities. This commemorative month calls our community to understand the needs of victims and survivors and to take individual and collective responsibility for recognizing and preventing sexual violence.”
Jeans for Justice Day, set for the national SAAM Day of Action, was created to allow local businesses, schools and organizations to get involved in efforts to stop sexual violence. Each participating employee or member who donates $5 to the cause can “buy” the right to wear jeans to work on Tuesday as a way to honor rape survivors, as well as other victims of crime in the community.
Donations help support the services and programs provided by Family Crisis Services of Northwest Mississippi Inc.
Businesses and organizations that want to participate should call 662-234-9929 by Friday (April 16). The local Jeans for Justice program was launched by the UM Staff Council and co-sponsored by Family Crisis Services of Northwest Mississippi, the Sarah Isom Center and the UM Violence Prevention Office.
The Violence Prevention Office, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Violence against Women, works to enhance victim services and implement prevention and education programs. Ellen Schafer, assistant director of health promotions, and Linda Keena, assistant professor of criminal justice, obtained the grant to launch the office in 2009.
Staff from the office will be team up with Family Crisis Services to distribute information about sexual assault prevention and available community services April 29-30 at the Student Union. Family Crisis Services also will exhibit items from the Clothesline Project and provide space for any survivors who wish to participate. The Clothesline Project offers a way for victims of violence to express their emotions by decorating a shirt. The event is free.
For more information on SAAM, go to http://www.nsvrc.org/saam. For more information on the Clothesline Project, go to http://www.clotheslineproject.org/. For more information on the Violence Prevention Office, contact Linda Abbott at 662-915-1059 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
And for more information on the university’s SAAM events, go to http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/sarah_isom_center/events.html.