SGA hosts sexual assault prevention town hall meeting

SGA hosted a sexual assault prevention town hall meeting on September 15 at 7:00 p.m. as part of kick off week for the It’s On Us campaign.

A panel of 11 speakers discussed the issue of sexual assault and answered questions from students and SGA President Elliot Spillers, who moderated the event.

“Sexual assault is something I think goes under the radar at a university which is so big,” said Maxton Thomas, who represented the Honors College Assembly on the panel.

Panel members discussed the resources that are available to those who are victims to sexual assault. Students have options, such as going to UAPD, the Women and Gender Resource Center, the Title IX office, the counseling center, their respective Residential Advisors and Community Directors or their friends.

The SGA aims to end sexual assault at the University through awareness, education and sustainability. The It’s On Us campaign helps with the awareness portion of these goals. By raising awareness, they hope to make it easier for victims to come forward and get the help they need and push students to take action to prevent a potential tragedy.

As said by multiple panel members, a key part of ending sexual assault is to stop victim blaming, which takes the attention and responsibility off the perpetrator and adds unnecessary pain to a traumatic situation for the victim.

Dr. David Grady, vice president of Student Affairs, said that it is important to believe victims and be there for them. Grady and other panel members say that believing victims and encouraging them to use their resources is the best thing when victims open up about their experience.

“The first person a victim talks to is the most important person,” Grady said.

According to Zoe Winston, a panel member, one in three women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, with 92 percent knowing their aggressor, and one in 33 men will be sexually assaulted. Because of these numbers, SGA has made it part of their mission to end sexual assault, starting with the students at the University.

“I loved hearing [the students’] questions," Spillers said. "I think it allowed them to really personalize the entire event. I think that it is important for them to really feel like their voices are being heard."

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