Campus / News / November 10, 2010

ASAP fights to continue the conversation

Students working towards sexual assault prevention will now have a new resource available on campus. Allies for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP), founded for Spring 2010, is a powerhouse of campus leaders representing numerous organizations.

“It is an organization of organizations providing opportunities for collaboration and serving as a hub of education on sexual assault prevention resources on campus,” said senior Arianna Timko, a Student Health Advocacy Group (SHAG) representative on ASAP.

The group aims to bring together campus organizations with a vested interest in sexual assault prevention in order to better communicate about their mutual efforts and come up with ways to maintain conversation on the topic.

“One member has used the term ‘central hub,’” said Joey Firman, ‘10, who helped establish the organization. Organizations will be able to stay aware of each other’s activities and to exchange information that they each take back to their own members.

Although the Student Life Committee (SLC) originally looked at the idea of creating a subcommittee to address the issue of sexual assault prevention, they tabled such a discussion upon the formation of ASAP. “This information emerged as a grass-roots organization with exactly the same mission,” said professor of theater and chair of SLC Elizabeth Carlin-Metz.

ASAP is composed of faculty rom SLC and the Office of Student Development, the Dean of Students, Director of Campus Safety John Schlaf and numerous student organizations, including but not limited to SHAG, Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council (Panhel), and Students Against Sexism in Society. Despite the large number of organizational representatives, individual students unaffiliated with any group are not included in ASAP.

“It’s impossible when you have too many people to get anything done,” Carlin-Metz said.

“I imagine that they’ll find the main setting for their activism will not be the meetings,” Firman said. “But if they come and say, ‘I have a concern or I’m interested in doing this,’ if the organization is designed well, they’ll have the ear of most of the important people to talk [with] on this subject.” Firman also noted that meetings of ASAP are open to any interested observers.

ASAP’s founding dates back to last spring term when many conversations and forums were held on the problem of sexual assault at Knox. When writer and speaker Jaclyn Friedman visited campus, she encouraged that student organizations work together, an idea Firman developed into ASAP.

“Our purpose is not to dwell what happened in the past,” said junior and president of Panhel Anne Horrell. “We’re looking to move forward. Last year was a lot of people dwelling on the horrible aspects of the issue— and it is horrible—but now it’s time to do something about it.”

“I think it’s a good point of reference…to recognize, oh look, there was a time when this was a huge issue, but I think it’s important to say, it’s always been a huge issue,” Firman said.

Although it has only met once this year, ASAP already has put together a forum on sexual assault prevention. Members were optimistic about other positive results already initiated by the group.

“I think it’s having an impact even though it may not be a very visible one at the moment,” Timko said. “I really enjoy having a combined faculty/staff/student organization. Because the Office of Student Development is involved as well as SLC, we can discuss things like how the orientation prevention worked.”

The organization is important not only to student groups participating in ASAP, but also to individuals. Firman became involved with prevention efforts after a close friend confided she had been sexually assaulted.

“It really turned my life upside down,” he said. “The person who she claimed was her perpetrator was someone I had trusted. That was kind of just a wake-up call—not that I’d been ignoring it before; I just wasn’t really aware.”

Spreading awareness about sexual assault prevention and available resources is a major part of ASAP’s agenda. Carlin-Metz recalled a student claiming they had never received information about what to do in cases of sexual assault despite that information being presented during orientation and available on places such as the Knox website.

“Unless you’re in a crisis, this isn’t general knowledge…you’re not paying attention to it,” she said.

ASAP wants to prevent such confusions by ensuring that efforts against sexual assault are happening continuously rather than the issue dying out after a term or two.

“Last year…made it clear, the subject needs to be continually addressed,” Carlin-Metz said. “I think people will get bored of the subject but if it has made one person more safe it succeeded.”

Katy Sutcliffe

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