April week to promote sex assault awareness

Scott Murphy, News Editor

After attending the Bipartisan Advocacy: Finding Common Ground conference at Harvard University from September 26 to 28, junior Karen Ejiofor and sophomore Abigail Smith have both initiated an on-campus campaign to promote sexual assault awareness and education.

Ejiofor and Smith were selected to attend the program through Saint Anselm College’s Student Ambassadors program, of which they are both members.

The goal of the conference was to pick from various topics and then craft a proposal to bring back to attendee’s respective campuses in order to highlight the issue that they had selected.

In commenting on the conference, Smith described it as “Incredibly worthwhile and eye-opening. I would like to thank NHIOP for sending me to go and hope that we will be able to spread awareness of sexual assault this upcoming academic year.”

Ejiofor shared that while she and Smith “Didn’t think there was an issue when we first picked the topic…now that we have done research and have joined a committee called AVERT, headed by the Dean of Students Office, we have recognized [that] the issue is more prevalent than students think.”

Ejiofor and Smith continued their activism while back on campus by attending two roundtable discussions on October 7 that were hosted by Senator Kelly Ayotte, who has sponsored the Campus Safety and Accountability Act introduced in Congress this past July.

These experiences have prompted Ejiofor and Smith to begin planning a week of events during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April of next year.

One of these events is a flag campaign, which Ejiofor described as a way of recognizing the reports of sexual assault that have occurred on college campuses.

“For every reported cause of sexual assault on a college campus in this academic year, we will place one lawn flag on the quad,” Ejiofor explained. “Last year, there were 3,800 reported cases, so we are sadly planning on ordering about 4,000 flags.”

Smith mentioned another event entitled “Walk in Her Shoes,” which she explained as an invitation for “Male students, faculty and staff to walk around the JOA quad in high heeled shoes.”

Ejiofor and Smith also have plans to distribute pins and rubber bracelets in Davison Hall, with each item being accompanied by a fact about sexual assault.

“We will encourage each student to tweet or post [these facts] somewhere to continue to spread awareness,” Ejiofor added.

Awareness will also be spread through a poster campaign, with Ejiofor and Smith hanging up flyers outlining what to do if someone has been assaulted, signs of assault and how to prevent assault in a social situation.

“In every bathroom stall there will be steps to follow accompanied by bits of advice as well as on and off campus resources to contact,” Ejiofor explained.

Smith shared that she and Ejiofor have received a “Very positive response to [these events], and we are looking forward to working with other groups and organizations on campus.”

On the whole, Ejiofor stressed that the point of the campaign is to empower students to effectively confront the issue of sexual assault.

“We just want people to know that if they see something or if they feel they have been assaulted they should tell someone,” Ejiofor elaborated. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be reported, but [notifying] health services, Dean of Students, a coach or even a friend can go a long way.”