Preventing sexual assault to create a safer campus

Students continue to express interest in an on-campus sexual assault prevention education group.

To be a part of the group, students must participate in training. Assistant Director at the Student Counseling Center Sara Martinez has planned a training session for January.

During training, students will learn about sexual assault on college campuses, health education principles and bystander intervention.

About 74 students have contacted Martinez with interest in the group, and 20 students have signed up for training. Martinez will conduct the training session.

“I know this population better than an outside source,” Martinez said.

Social work sophomore Marianna Cuevas was one of the students who approached Martinez with the idea of a sexual assault prevention group.

Cuevas became interested in this topic by volunteering at the Sexual Assault Center through Child and Family Services in Saginaw. She was surprised to hear the number of reported sexual assaults in Saginaw and wanted to learn what SVSU was doing to educate students.

“I don’t want people to assume that they’re always safe,” Cuevas said.

Cuevas said even though SVSU is a safe campus, she wants the group to bring awareness to what is considered sexual assault. She hopes the group can help survivors find resources to cope as well as providing sexual assault education.

“We don’t want people to feel like they need pepper spray on campus. We want them to know a different way to protect themselves,” Cuevas said.

Pre-elementary education junior, Jessica Hardin is also interested in joining the group. During her sophomore year, she took a one-credit RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) class taught by the SVSU University Police.

It bothered Hardin that students had to pay for the class, so she wanted to know what else SVSU was doing to educate students about sexual assault. She went to the Peer Health Education (PHE) office to get information and discovered from Martinez that a sexual assault prevention group was forming.

Since many PHE programs are voluntary, Hardin thinks it would be effective for students to hear prevention information as a part of their freshmen orientation program.

While writing a paper about sexual assault, Hardin learned that freshmen and sophomores are at a higher risk for being targets of sexual assault than upperclassman.

“I think it’s important to get the word out during freshmen orientation,” Hardin said.

The sexual assault group aims to educate as many people about prevention strategies as it can.

“I always believe that knowledge is power,” Cuevas said.

Students who are interested in joining the group can contact Martinez at [email protected].

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