For biology pre-medicine student and Florida A&M University’s 2017- 2018 Miss Sophomore Attendant, Kyra Freeman, sexual assault is a topic that hits close to home. Having experienced sexual assault at the age of 12, she decided to use her leadership position to spread the message about an issue that is still prevalent on campuses nationwide.
“I feel like as Miss Sophomore Attendant, I’m not just here to wear a crown and sash, I’m here to do real work at the university,” Freeman said. “When I got my title I said I would do service and this is the type of service we need.”
Freeman shared her story at the Out of the Shadows: The Pain of Sexual Abuse/Assault event held on Jan. 29, at the Phase III assembly room. The purpose of the event was to discuss the various ways someone can be sexually assaulted, recognizing boundaries, holding peers accountable and identifying the different forms of consent.
According to a survey done by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), one out of every four female undergraduate student will be a victim to some form of sexual assault before graduation. According to a 2007 and 2014 survey done by the DOJ, five to six percent of men will experience sex assault during college.
Setting the tone for the night, the event opened with the crowd watching a scene from the popular late 80’s early 90’s black sitcom “A Different World.” In the scene Dwayne Wayne (Kadeem Hardison) and Walter Oaks (Sinbad) dispel the myth that no does not always mean no.
Second year biology pre-medicine student Mikala Shannon was among the crowd. A close friend of Freeman, Shannon feels that this discussion was very much needed.
“I think it’s very important we bring up the issue of sexual assault and rape especially to a college campus,” Shannon said. “I was happy to see a lot of people come out because it is a pressing issue in today’s age.”
One of the topics that got the most audience engagement was predatory behavior in peers. A scenario was given that asked attendees to imagine seeing their friend in a situation that could escalate and challenged them to come up with a method of action. Both men and women in the crowd gave their different ideas on how they would intervene if they saw their friend in a potentially dangerous situation.
Members in the crowd also discussed the various ways they keep track of their friends while they’re out; whether location sharing through cell phones or stepping in when a situation seems suspicious.
Second year biology pre-medicine student Raven Wiggins was one of many students that voiced their concerns. She hopes that events such as these continue to take place.
“I feel as if it events like is on campus are important because we rarely talk about them, [sexual assault] happens on campus but no one puts them on blast or informs us on what to do, how it affects people, the ratio of men to women here on campus,” Wiggins said. “It’s just needed.”