Sexual Assault Awareness Month at New College

This article may contain triggering material related to sexual assault and domestic violence.

The month of April marks the recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and this year, the Counseling and Wellness Center (CWC) is hosting a number of events in order to raise awareness about the month’s purpose. The CWC is partnered with USF, Ringling and the Asolo Conservatory this year in order to bring attention to SAAM.

Third-year, NCSA President and President of Voices for Planned Parenthood (VOX) Cassie Corrado is the student leader in charge of the CWC ’s SAAM this year, along with thesis student and Co-President of VOX Lynn Gusmann.

The month has already seen a few events, mostly held at USF-Sarasota Manatee and hosted by Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC), including Speak Up Speak Out, where students attending had an opportunity to discuss their rights with SPARCC and a state attorney.

This year the programming for SAAM is slightly different from last year’s, including a decrease in movie screenings (from four last year to one this year), a Loving Your Body event, and a queer sexual violence event.

On Corrado’s Facebook announcement for upcoming SAAM events, she spoke about the need for SAAM at New College: “On any campus, sexual violence cases often go overlooked and survivors are criminalized for speaking out. At New College, our small campus can make day-to-day living even more stressful for survivors. While we work every day to reform policies to be better for our community, we are far from perfect. April is dedicated to events that allow survivors to speak out and tell their stories, to give space for healing, to share resources, to demystify the violence, and more importantly to remind the survivors on our campus that they’re not alone.”

This month, programming will focus on queer domestic violence and the healing process, Corrado added in her Facebook post. There will also be a return to more familiar programming, including the Clothesline Project, in which survivors of sexual assault and violence write their trauma, fears and hopes on t-shirts to be hung up around campus, and Take Back the Night, a walk and discussion to support survivors of sexual assault.

Along with the planned programming, there will also be a zine released later in the month, and a Teal Tuesday every week to show support for SAAM.

SAAM began forming in the late 90s, and was first nationally recognized in April of 2001. In 2009, President Obama officially proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month for the first time, making it an officially recognized event in the United States. The symbol of SAAM is a teal ribbon.

Last year, turnout for events ranged from 5 to 30 attendees, but this year Corrado expects a higher turnout at events such as the Project Unbreakable

photoshoot on the 22nd to the 24th, which is not affiliated with the official Project Unbreakable organization. All events on the calendar are open to New College students.

If a student is struggling with recovery after a sexual assault or looking for information about their rights, they can contact SPARCC at sparcc.net, or call their 24-hour hotline number at 941-365-1976. Students may also speak to the campus Victims Advocate at their 24-hour hotline number, 941- 504-8599.

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