Students speak out against sexual assault

Students show support for victims with the “It’s On Us” campaign.


The flags represent FAU students likely to experience sexual assault in their lifetime, with the blue flags for males, and the black flags for females. One in five women, and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Photo by Brittany Ferrendi| Features Editor

Bibi Patel, Contributing Writer

Sexual Assault Awareness Week began with the planting of hundreds of blue and black flags outside of the Breezeway. These flags, planted by Owls Care Health Promotion, represent Florida Atlantic students likely to experience sexual assault in their lifetime, with the blue flags representing males and the black flags representing females.

One in five women, and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. The center also reported that more than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.

The advertising around campus bears the national logo, “It’s On Us.” This campaign was launched by the White House Task Force in April of 2014 to change campus culture and engage more men in prevention efforts.

Secondary English education major Gabrielle Gibson, member of the freshman class council — a part of Student Government that focuses on the concerns of freshmen — shared that the initiative behind the campaign was to empower bystanders to not be silent anymore and to be the voice that matters.

“Whether you’ve been assaulted or you haven’t, it’s really important that you take that stand to prevent it and be an active voice in your community,” Gibson said.  

The hashtag, #fauiou16, has been promoted on social media during the various campus events. There are currently 140 posts on Instagram for the tag — students can be seen posing with frames that pledge to take a stand against sexual assault.

Using the hashtag, videos of students and faculty members like President John Kelly, head football coach Charlie Partridge and Vice President of Student Affairs Corey King stating their opinions on sexual assault can be found as well.

In her video, Student Body President Kathryn Edmunds said, “It’s on us to stop sexual assault, to get in the way before it happens, to get a friend home safe and to not blame the victim. It’s on us to look out for each other, to not look the other way. It’s on us to stand up, to step in.”

After seeing the flags outside of the Breezeway, junior biological sciences major Yasmeen Ampuero said, “It was a cool experience and I didn’t know that FAU hosted sexual assault awareness week. And it was pretty sad to see the flags outside the Breezeway; how the majority of them were women but there were also a small percentage of men and how that was the statistic for FAU students.”

Students were able to decorate shirts in support of sexual assault victims on Tuesday thanks to Owls Care. The shirts were then hung on a clothesline in Traditions Plaza.

On Wednesday in the Carole and Barry Kaye Auditorium, students attended the event “Take a Stand!” The keynote speaker, Scott Fried, was featured, alongside senior secondary English education major McKenzie Miller, who sang Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You” while Kevon Mayers, a junior music major, played the piano.

The song was co-written by Lady Gaga for “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary on campus rape. The music video ends with a statistic on sexual assault as well as the phone number for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

The performance by Miller and Mayers can be viewed below.

On Thursday from noon to 1 p.m., FAU students can attend “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes” an event  that emphasizes male participation in sexual assault awareness. Participating students will wear high heels and walk from the Traditions Plaza to the football stadium.

When asked if he would participate in the walk, sophomore neuroscience major Juan Lopez said, “Damn, no. I would break both my legs. I think it’s a very good idea and it’s very thoughtful of FAU to have the awareness week with past incidents that have happened and it’s a common thing to happen in universities.”

Ending the awareness week is the “Don’t Bite Your Tongue Dinner,” on Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., which will also have an open mic opportunity for students to speak up about sexual assault.

For resources on sexual assault you can visit here.

Bibi Patel is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].