Organization pushes for sexual assault education

A group of students pushed the University to better publicize sexual assault resources for students during a 4-day campaign last week.

GW Students Against Sexual Assault – a student organization launched to help spread awareness about sexual assault resources – set up tables in 10 residence halls on the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses to promote what members feel is a startling lack of sexual education at GW.

The campaign was launched following a December study which found that a majority of GW students are uninformed about how to report or seek help following a sexual assault.

About 74 percent of those surveyed said they don’t feel GW educates students about available resources for sexual assault victims, the survey found.

“One of the things we were most concerned about was getting campus resources more publicly known throughout the GW community,” SASA President Emily Rasowsky said.

She said the group doesn’t believe the University properly publicizes available resources regarding sexual assault.

“While there are places for vast improvement, one thing that I hope to stress is that we are not starting from zero and that there are many students and staff that feel strongly about improving what we have,” Rasowsky said.

Katie Bean, assistant director for the Center for Alcohol and other Drug Education and SASA’s adviser, said there are services available on campus to assist survivors of sexual assault.

Bean said the Sexual Assault Crisis Consultation Team trains staff members to be on-call advocates for sexual assault survivors.

“SACC Team members will assist the survivor by identifying the options available in regards to medical, legal, judicial, counseling or other needs,” Bean said in an e-mail.

The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Student Health Service provides basic treatment for survivors, but encourages them to go to the Washington Hospital Center – D.C.’s base for nurses who provide rape kits – to receive free examinations and treatment, she said.

University Police will provide free transportation to any hospital for students in this situation. The University Counseling Center also offers individual and group therapy sessions, another service available 24/7, Bean said.

The group chose the number 3,000 to brand its campaign because statistically one in three individuals is sexually assaulted in his or her lifetime, Rasowsky said. If that statistic is applied to the nearly 10,000 GW undergraduate students, then 3,000 students at GW could become victims of sexual assault in their lifetimes.

She said the statistic is a combination of two Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network statistics that estimate one in six women and one in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rasowsky said there is variation in sexual assault statistics from different sources due to a lack of reporting that occurs.

“We wanted to, overall, get students talking about the issue and get the information out there,” Rasowsky said.

A poster campaign was a build-up leading to Thursday, when SASA set up tables in Kogan Plaza, Marvin Center, University Yard and Ivory Tower to provide information and statistics about its cause.

“Our most successful tabling event was in Thurston,” Communications chair Carsen Zarin said. “It was great because we love to reach out to freshmen and share information with them about the cause.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.