OPINION | Sexual Assault Awareness Week should make lasting impact

Sexual Assault Awareness Week has come to Butler University again, compelling campus to think about a subject many want to ignore.

These programs perfectly demonstrate the right way to involve people on the topic: education and respect for human beings.

Sexual assault occurs with terrifying frequency in the world, this country and at Butler.

These organizers are shedding light on this issue.

Sarah Barnes Diaz, health education and outreach programs coordinator, and Mindy Wallpe, staff psychologist at Counseling and Consultation services, were the main organizers.

“We have to talk about this,” Wallpe said. “It’s uncomfortable to talk about it, but we have to.”

Most importantly, the week brings together several groups and involves as much of the campus as possible.

Peers Advocating Wellness for Students; the Intrafraternity Council; the Panhellenic Association; Greek Educators, Advocates and Resources; Butler University Police Department and Counseling and Consultation Services are all major players—but there are more.

This year, the programs went to the residence halls with films and discussions to try to reach as many students as possible, Wallpe said.

Taking the issue to where students live makes it even easier for them to get involved and active.

The programs have also been strategically scheduled.

Scheduling the events during Welcome Week might cause them to get ignored.

By now students have settled into their classes and hopefully can make time for important events like this one.

And more programs are on the horizon.

BUPD is considering programs like Men against Rape and others, Wallpe said.

Sexual assault does not just happen, and programs like these help teach that.

These organizers know this and emphasize changing the way people think about the issue.

Until people understand that the community must change its attitude, sexual assault will continue to be a problem.

As with any other harmful behavior, sexual assault happens more often when people refuse to believe it is a big deal.

And of course, sexual assault is not just any other harmful behavior.

It is an epidemic when an assault takes place every two minutes in the United States.

Luckily, the organizers of this week’s programs know this and are doing their part to encourage everyone—not just those “at risk”—to participate and grow.

“We can’t drop it after this week,” Wallpe said. “We have to educate each other. We have to change our culture.”

Wallpe and Diaz, with the cooperation of student and administrative groups, are doing just that.

Hopefully we can make our awareness last longer than just this week.

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