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Sexual assault a focus of conversation

Catherine Smith, Lifestyle Editor

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UW-Whitewater is the only university in the state to devote an entire week to sexual assault awareness, said Bryan Thommes, Director of Student Safety for Whitewater Student Government (WSG).

The “Its On Us” campaign run Oct. 23-26, featuring a self-defense class, bingo night, documentary film screening and victim vigil.

“Last year was WSG’s first initiative to introduce the awareness campaign to UW-Whitewater Students. After the results of last year’s campaign, I knew I wanted to take it to the next level,” said Thommes.

Thommes took it upon himself to kick-start a full week of events on campus to advocate for victims and garner support for the cause.

“This is something I am very passionate about and want students to be more aware of. Being the only University to dedicate an entire week towards the efforts of advocating sexual assault awareness and prevention, I am putting my whole heart into bringing awareness towards students while giving back to the ‘Its On Us’ organization to further their own efforts nationally.”

Students learned various movements to protect themselves from an offender and preventative measures to prevent an attack at the self-defense class Monday night.

Bingo Tuesday night focused on statistics of the sexual assault culture. Cultivating information from the “Its On Us” national campaign, students learned information on how prevalent sexual assault on campus, and also what to do if assaulted.

A screening of “The Hunting Ground” film, provided first-hand accounts of sexual assaults on campus and the fight for justice Wednesday.

A Survivor Vigil caps off the week’s events Thursday with lanterns released at the Perkins Stadium parking lot, while poems of tribute are read during the lighting of the 47 sponsored lanterns.

WSG will sell T-shirts for five dollars around the University center mall all week to raise fund for the “Its On Us” campaign and relief efforts for sexual assault victims.

Students are encouraged to wear the “Its On Us” official t-shirt on UW-Whitewater’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Day Thursday, Oct. 26.

“It brings me so much happiness that as a community and university we can begin this initiative as the only university in the state to do an entire week of events promoting awareness of sexual assault prevention,” Thommes said. “Just being able to affect just one person and bring the conversation to the forefront and feel comfortable about discussing it, is my goal. I hope that after this week, students who have experienced sexual assault will feel safe and ready to come forward to discuss ways of getting help with counseling services or reporting their incident.”

For more information about the “Its On Us” national campaign visit www.itsonus.org.

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Sexual assault a focus of conversation