Apr 252010
Authors: Veronica Jenssen

For the first time in recent history, CSU broke the silence that generally surrounds sexual assault throughout April, which is seen nationally as Sexual Assault Awareness month, with its campaign “Consent Turns Me On.”

“Consent is not the absence of no,” said Tanja Andreas, a CSU nurse practitioner and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. “Consent is saying, ‘Yes I want to do this.’ The absence of no is not consent, a clear yes should be given.”

Campaign coordinator Monica Collins said the campaign is intended to put a positive spin on sex and educate people on the truths about sexual assault.

The campaign planned about 24 events throughout the month of April. But, education in self-defense is not what is being offered, since it does not fit the reality of preventing sexual assaults, Collins said.

The campaign, instead, has been offering an array of workshops and events that are meant to help inform students about sexual assaults and the type of sexual assault that is present on campus.

“There are two types of sexual assault. One is where the survivor does not know the attacker and the other is where the attacker is an acquaintance of the survivor,” CSU Police Department detective Adam Smith said. “In general, when a sexual assault occurs on campus it almost always is committed by an acquaintance of the survivor, and there is almost always an excessive amount of alcohol present.”

“I would guess about 95 percent of sexual assault situations on campus involve three things: The sexual assault always involves too much alcohol, possibly to the point where the person may blackout, the assault involves someone they know and it is rare that physical injury occurs,” Andreas said.

In most situations, the type of sexual assault that occurs on campus can be preventable, Smith said.

“People need to be responsible and follow their instincts when they decide to drink,” he added. “It is important to never drink with people you are unfamiliar with, you should always have a plan that includes a sober friend and don’t drink excessively.”

The campaign hopes to make these statistics clear to CSU students, and help them learn what consent means in order to prevent sexual assaults from being committed.

The campaign is also offering activities for survivors of sexual assault and their loved ones, Collins said, including workshops called the Clothesline Project, which is part of a national program.

The workshops allow survivors to make shirts that represent the experience she or he went through. All supplies that are needed to create the T-shirts are provided at the workshop and the workshops are private.

“I think the Clothesline Project is an incredible project because it provides an artistic space for survivors and secondhand survivors to display the ways sexual and gender-based violence has impacted their lives,” said Lauren Shulman, a senior and participant of the Clothesline Project said.

The project is meant to open the seal of silence that surrounds sexual assault, Collins said. It is also a great healing process for the survivors. After participants have created their shirt they are welcome to donate it to the project. The shirts are then hung for the public to see.

“It is a good visual representation of the violence that is occurring in the community,” Collins said.

The clothesline project will be offering a final workshop Tuesday. The shirts will then be hung in the Lory Student Center Plaza for all people to view, Collins said.

Sexual assault awareness month will come to a close on Thursday with the event called “Take Back the Night Rally.”

The rally will start in the CSU sculpture garden at 7 p.m. During this time, survivors and activists will be allowed to speak out to the public about sexual assault. Then there will be a march from CSU to downtown Fort Collins.

Staff writer Veronica Jenssen can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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