In a continued effort to bring different sexuality and relationship issues into the campus mainstream, Marquette presented its yearly Sexual Violence Awareness Week this week, with the theme of “Take a Stand: Believe, Act, and Support.”
Susannah Bartlow, director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center and part of the SVAW organization committee, said each year’s theme is vital to highlighting different problems within the broad spectrum of sexual violence.
“Even though the week is consistent (on campus), we’re not having the same conversation year after year,” Bartlow said. “There’s a thread that gets picked up and expanded.”
It’s difficult to measure SVAW’s effectiveness in lowering sexual violence and assault since underreporting instances of sexual violence is a major problem among students. Seven sex offenses were reported in 2012, according to the Department of Public Safety’s 2013 Annual Security and Fire Safety report.
“To address underreporting we need to look at issues like climate, our systems and structures,” Bartlow said. “It’s certainly important to do (SVAW) education and then look at underreporting as another project.”
Jenny Czubkowski, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and an intern at the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, is promoting SVAW through word of mouth, flyers and emails.
“Initial responses (from students) are usually that they didn’t know or they’re not really interested but then once you go on to explain what it is, that it doesn’t have to be a long commitment, then it usually sparks more interest,” Czubkowski said.
Since her freshmen year, Czubkowski said she has seen big advances in sexual violence education and prevention. Still, she said she thinks SVAW is unnoticed by many students.
“There’s a low buzz to it where we need to have more energy,” Czubkowski said. “I think we should cater (SVAW promotion) more to freshmen and sophomores who have more ‘moldable’ mindsets.”
Dr. Robin S. Brown, associate director of health and wellness at the university medical clinic, said the high prevalence of sexual violence on college campuses is one reason why Marquette continues SVAW.
“One out of five college-age females, aged 18-24, experience sexual assault,” Brown said in an email. “Ninety percent know their assailant. Although men are sexually assaulted far less often than women, analysis of the National Crime Victimization Survey data revealed that 1.4 per 1,000 college men report rape or sexual assault victimization each year.”
Bartlow said she sees SVAW as a win-win situation since it affects all students, even ones with no history of sexual assault. She also said she sees investing in sexual violence awareness programs yielding great results among Marquette students and staff members.
“Even in the year that I’ve been here, it’s obvious that there’s such a momentum in terms of people that want to talk about gender and sexuality issues,” Bartlow said. “There’s always someone who comes up to me at the end of a program.”
To conclude SVAW, the university will host Jaclyn Friedman, a feminist writer and activist as part of MUSG’s keynote speaker series tonight at 7 p.m. in the Weasler Auditorium.