Addressing Sexual Assault Awareness: Survey and Rally Underway

By Olivia Walters, Staff Writer

The first survey to determine Furman’s sexual assault climate is currently being conducted until April 10. The survey comes just before nationally recognized Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.

A 2012 summary report by the CDC indicates that nearly 19 percent of undergraduate women are subjected to attempted or completed sexual assault. One statistic estimates that one in five women and one in 16 men are victims, yet these findings are difficult to conceptualize because 63 percent of the incidents are not reported.

Meanwhile, Furman is conducting a university-specific study to understand how this issue affects students. Eight hundred randomly-selected students have been contacted and may choose to anonymously respond to questions regarding perceptions about sexual violence on campus. The Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium, a group of 130 liberal arts colleges, seeks to grasp the importance of this under reported issue in university atmospheres.

Given that students are frequently asked throughout the academic year to complete surveys, Melissa Nichols, the Title IX coordinator overseeing the survey, believes that the end of March is a good time of year to avoid survey fatigue. Nichols wants to improve the sexual misconduct reporting process and have a better understanding of the number of incidents on campus.

“It’s a tough subject to ask about and it can be difficult for people to complete the survey,” Nichols said.

Nevertheless, Nichols hopes that students will feel comfortable with the online survey’s design, which contains contact information for on-campus resources at its conclusion.

While sexual assault tends to affect women more often, the Furman survey has been organized with unbiased gender representation in mind, according to Don Pierce, director of Institutional Assessment and Research.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and students on the Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention (SHARP) committee have been working to organize educational CLPs and other events for the first week of the month. Emilee O’Brien, class of 2017 and the chief coordinator on the SHARP committee, says they are “making strides and are so excited.”

Furman students and faculty can look forward to the Take Back the Night rally Sun. April 9. It’s purpose is to offer support to sexual assault survivors and denounce sexual violence by “taking back the space of campus,” O’Brien said.

The SHARP committee is looking forward to The  Greenville News being present as well as over 500 anticipated participants. The rally will feature local art from the Greenville community, sign-holding and other means of awareness.

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