Sex and gender at work, in bed, and on the street

Inside '3,000' the GWU student sexual assault awareness campaign

February 7, 2011 - 01:45 PM
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According to recent study on sexual assault at the George Washington University, 71 percent of GW students believe that the school has adequate resources to help rape victims "from crisis to recovery." But 74 percent of students say the university fails to educate students about these resources. And over 80 percent of students are misinformed about the sexual assault resources available on campus. The report called sexual assault at the school "an underreported and silent problem."

Student newspaper the GW Hatchet responded to those stats by calling for increased awareness efforts on campus. University spokesperson Michelle Sherrard admitted that the school's "information could be more easily accessible to students"  and promised to work on "consolidating educational, medical and other support services information in a central online repository." This week, student groups are taking action.

Starting today, GW Students Against Sexual Assault and seven other student groups have banded together to plaster the campus with a number: "Our entire campus is covered with 3,000," says GW SASA president Emily Rasowsky, a sophomore. "According to RAINN statistics, one in three individuals will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. When you apply that to the GW population, sexual assault will affect 3,000 GW students."

This week's "3,000 Campaign" will use that statistic as a jumping-off point to raise awareness about sexual assault on GW's campus, and the resources the school offers when it happens. The campus fliers point students to a Facebook page which campaign members are stacking with "all the information you'll ever need if you're assaulted on campus or off campus," Rasowsky says—links to assault statistics, abuse hotlines, and the school's Sexual Assault Crisis Consultation team.

The centerpiece of the campaign is a push for public conversation on campus assault. GW SASA has designed a Formspring page that allows students to air anonymous "secrets" around the issue of sexual violence. The campaign has also hit on-campus dorms with supplies of blank "3000" postcards, on which students can create PostSecret-esque messages relating to campus assault. "There really needs to be more avenues to talk about the issues," says Raswosky, 19. "We do have resources available here, but they're not highly publicized. It seems that the only people who know about our sexual assault response are the people who have been forced to find it, and that should not be the case."

According to Rasowsky, the impact of campus awareness campaigns can depend a great deal on who's talking. "We're interested in creating more of a student voice" on campus assault, Rasowsky says. "Speaking as a student, we aren't always comfortable going to adults about these things. It can really help to have that student buffer."

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