Student organization Allies for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP), which began during spring term of the 2009-2010 school year, talked about the recent sexual battery reported and more administrative action in sexual assault awareness in its Oct. 3 meeting.
In its mission statement, ASAP is made up of six organizations “to change the way that sex and sexual assault is discussed on campus.” Represented on ASAP are leaders from Student Senate, the Inter-fraternity Council, the Panhellenic Council, SASS (Students Against Sexism in Society), SHAG (Student Health Advocacy Group), and Common Ground as well as the Office of Student Development, the Center for Intercultural Life and Campus Safety.
Two chairpeople representing two campus organizations lead ASAP and the leadership changes each term. The co-chairs of ASAP this term are junior Tristan Jones of Common Ground and senior Kristi Weller from the Panhellenic Council.
As a special type of organization, ASAP is able to receive money from Student Senate but will also get its money from its six organizations.
“We don’t want to be reliant on one source of finance and we don’t want to be reliant on anyone; we want to be an independent organization made up of six different organizations,” sophomore Esther Farler-Westphal, representative from Student Senate, said.
For future events, ASAP hopes to explain what its organization is in an informal setting such as a fall event featuring apple cider, hot cocoa and snacks. Professor of Theatre Elizabeth Carlin-Metz and Director of Multicultural Student Advisement Tianna Cervantez pointed out the importance of the discussion of language regarding assault, which segued into discussion of the recent report of “an unwelcome physical contact (sexual battery)” of a female Knox student near Academy Street.
“I feel like a lot of people don’t necessarily know what sexual assault could be,” Weller said.
In that situation, Weller mentioned that verbal assault can also be sexual assault. Members of ASAP praised the student who came to the victim’s aid.
“Even though this is a bad situation, I think the campus is obviously doing something right because there was an active bystander,” Farler-Westphal said.
Cervantez stressed not just sexual safety but that students should be vigilant at night to be safe.
As an upcoming event with Common Ground to promote safety, ASAP will table and give whistles and sheets of safety tips and resources. As a safety resource, senior Michael Martinez, representative from Common Ground, mentioned the silent witness form on the Knox website, where people can report incidents anonymously.
“It’s a really passive thing you can do but it’s also something you can do,” Martinez said.
In addition to student action, the administration is willing to do more regarding sexual assault awareness according to Carlin-Metz and Dean of Students Debbie Southern. Around the time ASAP formed, “students wanted to see more of an administrative presence” with regard to these topics according to Carlin-Metz.
As those students have graduated, Carlin-Metz said the Student Life Committee is “still trying to ascertain whether that is an active desire … for students.”
“If it feels like it would be a positive contribution on the campus community and conversation, then Student Life will talk to the President about the topic,” Carlin-Metz said.
Southern said the administration has been in the process of talks regarding more student participation in sexual assault awareness such as bringing in a speaker.
“We should probably talk more about what makes the most sense and what students are going to be the most interested and participating in. But the point is that we should be doing more,” Southern said.