A Letter from Our Executive Director
At the Mississippi Coalition Against Sexual Assault we are proud to be a technical assistance provider for the recipients of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women’s “Grant to Reduce Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking on Campus” program. This grant helps to support staff, administrators, and students on campuses across the country who are working to be facilitators of change and combat sexual violence at the academic institutions where they learn, work, live, and grow.
Though an important step, those that we work with know, that sexual assault prevention on college campuses means more than making people knowledgeable of its existence and takes more than one 30-minute workshop. It’s about creating and fostering an environment where sexual assault is not tolerated and students have the tools and confidence to intervene. It’s empowering them to take action at a party when they see an obviously intoxicated student being led into a risky situation AND to speak up and tell a friend that their “rape joke” is insensitive and inappropriate.
It’s delivering substantive programming, maintaining consistent visibility, and offering perpetual access to information. It’s about making sure students know that it’s okay to have boundaries and barriers, to know what they are, and not shy away from vocalizing and standing firmly in them.
In addition to the data that shows us that students in college experience sexual assault in staggering numbers, it’s particularly important to address sexual assault on college campuses because the habits, ideologies and patterns young people form around sexual identity at this definitive stage could have a lifelong impact.
We find ourselves in a time when the issues of sexual assault have the nation’s ear and the voices of change are multiplying everyday. Society is poised for change and the students we seek to create change for and invest in today are the advocates that will continue to insist this change happens and put an end to sexual violence and aggression on their campuses, in their workplaces, and in their relationships.
This April for Sexual Assault Awareness month there are plenty of activities going on at campuses throughout the country that are recruiting students to take up the mantle of advocacy and teaching them to be agents of positive change in ways both big and small. This is hopefully one of many moments throughout the year where colleges host activities that engage students, faculty, and staff alike to be conscious, courageous, and compassionate when it comes to the issue of sexual assault.