Panelists discusses sexual assault awareness in FAMU Perry-Paige Auditorium

The Florida A&M Chapter of S.I.S.T.U.H.S., Inc, facilitated a panel discussion on sexual assault awareness in Florida A&M University’s Perry-Paige Auditorium. Representatives from Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Progressive Black Men, Sunshine Manor, and the Florida Department of Health spoke out about rape on college campuses.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In an effort to urge students to come forward and speak out, FAMU will host a week of activities focusing on preventing sexual violence
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, college students experience disproportionately high rates of sexual violence. One in five college women will be a victim of sexual assault by the time she graduates.

Students, angered by the lack of security on FAMU’s campus addressed the meager attention given to safety precautions on campus.

” I can’t believe FAMU put up more lights instead of hiring more security. The lights don’t prevent a crime. The lights just make it easier for someone to assault you”, said Christina Jean, 19, a first-year business administration student from Pompano Beach Fla.

In a study done by the National Union of Students, about women students’ experience of harassment, stalking and sexual assault, “More than one-third of respondents reported they sometimes felt unsafe when visiting their university or college buildings in the evening. This is in notable contrast to perceptions of safety during the day when 97 percent of students always or mostly felt safe.”

Allison Lockard, Assistant Director of Sunshine Manor Counseling Center, countered the student arguments with a positive report of the reactive steps the FAMU Police Department has taken to improve campus safety.

“We work closely with FAMU PD; last summer, the counseling center, student health, and FAMU PD came together and joined a committee on housing to discuss all of the sexual assaults that have happened on campus,” said Lockard.

Lockard further explained the Anonymous Reporting situation concerning the students on campus and FAMU PD.

“As far as response to sexual assault, they’ve been doing a great job working with us. For students who wish to remain anonymous, they will be transported to the hospital without making a report.”

One of the main concerns discussed at the forum was the occurrence of sexual assault on male students.

“Typically, we’ve seen a small increase of males coming forth and saying they’ve been sexually assaulted. We’re very glad that they’re seeking our services. We want it to be known that we offer help to them as well”, said Shan Ransome, Outreach Program Director for Refuge House.

Ransome said 73 percent of people actually know their attackers, noting the fact that it’s more prevalent for people to know who sexually assaults them.

“Rape is not about the act of sex, rape is about having control over someone else”, said Ransome.

Sexual assault victims are urged by counselors to be examined as quickly as possible after an attack.

The Refuge House offers follow-up counseling services that are free, as well as counselors and therapists. They will serve as an advocate for sexual assault victims and will connect them to an experienced certified forensic nurse.