Canisius continues student advocacy with Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By Nathan Ress

News Editor

The coming weeks will hold yet another awareness campaign from the students of Canisius, this time focusing on sexual violence. This campaign, like the recent campus-wide solidarity week, will be the culmination of many weeks of planning and the cooperation of many groups on campus.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and to show solidarity with all sexual violence victims, Canisius will be hosting a month worth of events focusing on the issue. These events are the brainchild of Katie Parker, Canisius Sexual Assault Awareness Month Representative. Parker stated that the month of events will focus on advocating for victims of sexual assault and helping them through their recovery process.

The events are the culmination of several groups working together, including USA, Women and Gender Studies Club, Canisius Sexual Violence Prevention Team, and Step Up Griffs. Parker has been working closely with these groups as well as Dilpreet Kaur, Chair of Public Health for USA. Parker recognizes Kaur for having “done a lot to make sure this is a focus and to push it through.”

The month of activities will include three main events, Take Back the Night (April 10, 7p.m. in Palisano), a self-defense workshop (April 19, 7p.m. in Palisano), and Walk a Mile in Her Shoes (April 30, 12-3p.m. at Crisis Services Buffalo 2969 Main St, Buffalo, NY). These will be supported by several table sessions in the library and around the campus. Parker cites spreading awareness and support as the main focus of the event and says representatives will be doing so “pretty constantly.”

Parker sees the Monday, April 10 event as the flagship event of the entire month. Monday’s event will be broken into three main parts, and open to the public, allowing for an entire evening of action and activism on campus.

The event will start at 7p.m. with a presentation from Brandi Sutherland, a Crisis Services Buffalo representative. According to Parker, the talk will “put a focus on campus related assaults.” Sutherland will also be talking about the various services that Crisis Services Buffalo offers.

This will be followed by a vigil at 8p.m. in the quad focusing on showing solidarity for sexual assault survivors. There will also be musical accompaniment from Canisius CrescenDON’Ts. The vigil will be a place for students to contribute their support both verbally and visually by adding their message of support to a survivor wall. The idea behind this vigil is to “create a space for survivors,” said Parker. She hopes that students will gather to show their solidarity with victims and to voice their opposition to sexual violence in all forms.

Finally, immediately following the vigil there will be a reception in the Palisano Pavilion. The reception will include food, cake, and ice cream, as well as information tables from the Canisius counseling center and Step Up Griffs. The reception will also feature a photo booth for students to take pictures with their signs of support.

Parker sees this month as a proactive approach to countering sexual violence. She says that “Canisius has done a good job teaching about consent” and praises the measures the school has taken already to combat sexual violence in all forms. She would like to see this month of events allow students to show even more support for victims, as well as learn more about the issue of sexual violence, particularly as it relates to college campuses. “This is the next step,” said Parker.

 

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