Women's Resource Center raises sexual assault awareness

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and when thinking about the heavy term “sexual assault,” people do not usually realize all of the things it encompasses.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics defines sexual assault as “crimes that include attacks or attempted attacks generally involving unwanted sexual contact between victim and offender.”

Sexual assaults are not always a clear-cut thing. They may or may not involve force and they can also include things like grabbing and verbal threats. The easiest way to avoid any type of sexual assault incident is one simple word: consent.

“By teaching students the meaning of sexual consent and understanding its many facets, then we can begin to create a campus where students feel empowered and safe to live their lives and develop relationships,” said Shahana Ahmed, EMU biology major.

In order to help educate students on this topic, the Eastern Michigan University Women’s Resource Center has organized their annual “Consent Week.”

“Consent is something that needs to be taught to everyone, males and females,” said Mikki Smith, EMU social work major.

The events kicked off on Monday with the movie screening of “It Happened Here” in the Student Center Auditorium. This film explores sexual assault on campuses through the personal testimonies of five survivors who chose to speak out instead of remaining silent.

“It’s sad and makes no sense that countless young ladies and men are taken advantage of and instead of solving the problem, people play the blame game,” said Smith.

“Take Back the Night” followed on Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Student Center. This event is an internationally-held march and rally intended as a protest and direct action against rape and other forms of sexual violence. Members of the university and local community gathered to share their stories, protest, and honor the lost.

On Wednesday, be on the lookout for EMU male students marching in high heels as EMU's Tau Kappa Epsilon and the Women's Resource Center host “A Walk in Her Shoes.” Here students learn more about how men can become involved in ending violence against women.

“I think people should get involved because on a college campus there are a lot of situations where alcohol is involved and students need to know that when you’re drunk, you cannot give consent,” said Diamond Jones, EMU professional chemistry major.

If you have not been able to attend any of the events so far, Consent Week will be wrapping up on Thursday, April 9. The discussion, “How to Have Good (Consensual) Sex,” will be an interactive event to learn what constitutes a "no” and will be held in Halle Library.

“The important thing is to make sure your partner clearly says yes before beginning any sexual activity,” said Jones.

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