Sexual Assault Awareness Month

You may have noticed the purple ribbons hanging outside the fraternities and sororities since April 1. These ribbons are to show the greek communityâÄôs commitment to ending sexual assault.
Unfortunately, the sexual assaults that occurred this fall on Fraternity Row were not uncommon. What was uncommon was that we had three sexual assaults actually reported to the police and the University of Minnesota.
Research indicates that one in four or five women will be the victim of a sexual assault or attempted sexual assault while they are a student at the University. It is paramount that as a University community we choose not to be bystanders to sexual assault, but instead decide to be allies and speak out against it.
It also important that if one of your friends discloses that they are a victim or survivor of a sexual assault that you do not blame them or accuse them of lying about their experience. Instead, tell your friend: âÄúI believe you.âÄù Tell them nothing they did justified being sexually assaulted and that they did nothing to deserve this. Listen to whatever they have to say.
As a guy and someone who has loved ones who are survivors, I understand that because of my gender some women who do not know me might be threatened by my presence, whether IâÄôm crossing a street or asking the girl I sit next to in class out to dinner.
As a member of a fraternity, I was embarrassed and angered by the sexual assaults that occurred in the fraternities this fall. And that is why it is so important that these purple ribbons hang outside our fraternity and sorority houses. The greek community is acknowledging that we need to make changes and that we are trying to create safer environments.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and I want to apologize to any person who has experienced sexual assault. You are not alone, and recovery is possible. I challenge everyone to stop using sexist or rape jokes. Stop calling women bitches and sluts. Stop bragging about how you âÄúrapedâÄù your last midterm.
While these are simple suggestions, I know that they have an enormous impact on victims and survivors or anybody who finds them offensive. Allowing a rape culture to exist will only continue to normalize the acceptance of sexual assault.
But if you want to do something, if you want to make a change, I invite you to come to Coffman Union, Room 303, from 3-4 p.m., April 8 for an engaging meeting with Keith Edwards, and take an active stance as allies against sexual assault.