Students will once again see the campus dressed in teal this week for Marquette’s annual Sexual Violence Awareness Week, sponsored by the Center for Health Education and Promotion. The week, which dates back to 1994, aims to get information out to students about what sexual violence is and how to prevent it.
The week started Monday with a Health Hut, a table with students and health educators handing out pamphlets with information about sexual assaults and prevention, underneath the Raynor Library bridge in the afternoon; a self-defense seminar taught by a Department of Public Safety officer in McCabe Hall; and “True Life: I’ve Been Sexually Assaulted,” an informational seminar presented by the Schroeder Hall staff about survivors’ stories and the resources students have at Marquette.
Other notable events throughout the week include a fundraiser at Qdoba Mexican Grill Tuesday night, health huts throughout the week and keynote speaker The Angel Band Project, a band that pays tribute to a rape and murder victim by spreading sexual violence awareness, on Tuesday night.
“This year’s theme is ‘Believe, Act, Support,’” Becky Michelsen, a health educator for the Center for Health Education and Promotion, said. “Last year we did ‘Know the Facts,’ and it was all about the basics. Now we’re talking about survivors and how you support survivors.”
Michelsen said the theme comes into play when interacting with sexual assault victims.
“The biggest thing is, believe them when they tell you, act, as far as getting them help (…) and then continue to support them as they take that healing journey,” Michelsen said.
One of the week’s other major events is the teeter-totter marathon fundraiser put on by the O’Donnell Hall staff. Residents in O’Donnell take turns using a teeter-totter for 3 days straight at various locations around campus. The teeter-totter marathon is a staple for O’Donnell during the week, and this year marks its the 10th anniversary.
“All the proceeds go towards sexual violence victims in Milwaukee,” Kyle Whelton, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences and an O’Donnell Hall resident assistant, said. “This is ten years of men teeter-tottering for the sake of sexual violence awareness.”
“I feel like I’m making a huge difference (by teeter-tottering),” Jack Smiley, a freshman in the College of Health Sciences, said. “Even if it’s just a drop in the bucket, it’s impacting a lot of people.”
According to Marquette’s DPS reports, the number of reported sexual assaults increased from five in 2007 to ten in 2011. Michelsen said the number of reported assaults increased because more people knew the facts about sexual assaults.
“It’s a topic not a lot of people are comfortable talking about,” Michelsen said. “There’s still a mist around it, that ‘it can’t happen to me,’ and I think as we continue to reach out to students, I think it’s going to help students have a better understanding of it.”
Even with a new theme for 2012, Michelsen said that there is an overarching message that Sexual Violence Awareness Week has tried to get across since its beginning.
“The overall message for us is ‘Take A Stand,’” Michelsen said. “That’s been the message for the past two years. It’s recognizing that sexual violence is an issue that not only happens in our country, but it does happen at Marquette, and we can’t forget that.”