Students 'Take A Stand"

Category:  News
Wednesday, January 27th, 2016 at 8:51 PM
Students 'Take A Stand  by Tracy Geibel and Macala Leigey

He placed one hand on her waist, and pinned her to the sink with the other, his body pressed up against hers.

“He felt me. He kissed my neck. Then, he walked away,” a source who wished to be anonymous said.

Over a year ago, this woman was sexually assaulted for a several month period.

Wanting to help others who have been through similar experiences, she and other students, both undergraduate and graduate, are leading the “Take a Stand against Sexual Violence” campaign.

Initiated in September 2015 by former Edinboro University president, Julie E. Wollman, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the ongoing problem of sexual violence at college campuses and to provide support for those who are victims of sexual assault.

The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) states that every 107 seconds another American is sexually assaulted.

A quarter of female college students are victims of sexual assault during their academic career, says the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

According to the university’s 2015 Annual Security and Safety Report, there were three reported incidents of forcible sex offenses on main campus in 2014.

In 2013, there was one instance, and in 2012, there were four.

“I think it’s about being more preventive and proactive more than reactive,” director of social equity and title IX coordinator, Ronald Wilson said.

He says that education is the key to preventing problems. The Take A Stand Campaign launched its social media the first week of the spring 2016 semester.

Other efforts to educate students will include a showing of “The Hunting Ground” on March 17, panel discussions throughout the semester, and several on-campus events involving university clubs and organizations.

In an effort to promote the “Take A Stand” campaign and to stimulate as much awareness as possible, the campaign has teamed up with several notable sponsors: The Crime Victim Center of Erie County, Safe Net, The Pennsylvania Coalition against Rape, The Pennsylvania Coalition for Women, and See Act Stop.

This young woman did get away from the man who sexually assaulted her, but she never pressed charges. He was too “intimidating.”

“I said I needed to go back to school. I said they needed me to help when freshmen moved in,” she said. “This was the middle of July. No one was up here.”

However, her excuse wasn’t questioned. She spent the next weeks refusing to leave her house, wearing the baggiest clothes in her closet.

“I don’t want to think about what would have happened if I stayed… Unfortunately, I have to deal with what he did do,” she said. “It was like I knew what was happening to me, but I didn’t want to accept it.”

The Take A Stand campaign hopes to let victims know there is help.

“There’s always going to be someone there to listen. They’re [victims] still going through a process where they don’t see themselves as human beings; they were violated in a way nobody else knows about. They need to feel that they’re safe and that there is help out there,” the woman said.

She knows what it’s like to be sexually assaulted, and her involvement with the campaign has aided her in coping with her personal experience.

“Being able to help with this campaign kind of gets me the help that I need, but also to help the others that need the resources as well,” she said.

“[But] I don’t want people to pity me because this happened. I don’t want them to say, ‘I’m sorry this happened to you.’ This is not about me, it’s about my story helping others to come forward with their stories.”

Tracy Geibel is the executive editor for The Spectator and she can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com. Macala Leigey is the News Editor for The Spectator and she can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

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