Peru State hosts sexual assault awareness walk

Peru State hosts sexual assault awareness walk
Football player Levi Tripp (l), Ethan Arnold (c), and Serena Nelson (r) lead the pack heading into the homestretch of the mile-long walk (Courtesy Photo)

PERU – The “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes®” talks about the old saying of “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” The nationally recognized event is an opportunity for men, in particular, to raise awareness in their community about the serious causes, effects, and remediation’s to men’s sexual violence against women.

In order to help more students and staff on the Peru State campus better understand the saying, the College’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) Planning Committee, along with the Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), and Rotaract planned two different activities which occurred on Wednesday, April 25. The event was the culmination of a month of various activities and events to promote sexual awareness on campus.

Over 100 students, faculty, and staff participated in the event with the males who could find a pair of shoes to fit and who could handle walking a mile around the campus quad. The activity served as a rally against rape, sexual assault, and gender violence. One of the SAAM committee members, Jamie Eberly, introduced the event and stated, “”Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is the International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence. We are here to raise awareness about the causes and effects to violence against women. Look around you-you are all making a difference tonight! Now, Bobcats, go strut your stuff!”

More than 100 pairs of shoes were donated for the event which allowed the males to select their choice of footwear to don for the walk. Some males handled it much better than others as they strutted around the sidewalks on the College’s campus. As many came to quickly realize, it was not easy to wear the shoes, let alone talk about the cause.

In addition to the walk, “Denim Day” was celebrated which is an international campaign to assist in the awareness. Over 75 personal hygiene items were donated from participating faculty and staff. The items collected were donated to Project Response of Auburn.

Other SAAM committee members were Bobbie Barton and Janell Moore.

Following the walk, all participants were encouraged to head to the Al Wheeler Activity Center to participate in an informational panel related to sexual violence. The panel was sponsored by the Student Athlete Advisory Council and was arranged by members Samantha CarlsonErin Snyder, and Gunnar Orcutt, along with co-adviser Dr. Spencer Vogt.

SAAC has participated in a new national effort entitled “It’s On Us” for the past several years. This is a national movement organized in 2014 to end sexual assault. The campaign asks everyone to step up and be a part in taking a stand against sexual violence.

Snyder, one of the SAAC representatives from the softball team, provided the following stats to start the panel, “Every two minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. College-age women are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other age group, and the majority of rapes are committed by someone who the victim knows. One in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. More than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault. 63.3% of men at one university who self-reported acts qualifying as rape or attempted rape admitted to committing repeat rapes.”

Orcutt, a SAAC member representing football, served as the moderator for the panel discussion with prepared questions being answered first and then followed with numerous questions from those in attendance. The prepared questions talked about what Peru State does, how students are supposed to report incidents, and what services are available for anyone involved.

Members on the panel included Project Response staff members Ashley Robertson – Program Director and Desaray Johnson – Sexual Assault Advocate, Eulanda Cade – Peru State’s director of human resources, Taylor Sinclair – Nebraska State College System Director of Title IX, and Steve Schneider – Peru State athletic director and head football coach. Also presenting and contributing to the program were Shari Berglund – Program Coordinator and Lesley Ryan – Outreach Coordinator of Project Response.

Representing the Bobcat cross country team, Carlson stated, “I believe the panel was a success as we anticipated only going for about 20 minutes and it lasted nearly 45 minutes. We had student-athletes and others asking some excellent questions with the information provided being important for all to hear.”

The first 100 students in attendance at the panel received “It’s On Us” t-shirts which were handed out by SAAC. The t-shirts were provided in part with funds from the Peru State Student Senate.

Barton was please not only with the attendance at the Wednesday events, but the participation at the different activities throughout the month.

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