Campus Events Shed Light on Sexual Assault
April is national Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Georgia Tech’s campaign and events for the month begin with the 22nd Annual Take Back the Night on Monday, April 4, at 7 p.m. at the Campanile.
Take Back the Night is a candlelight vigil to honor survivors of sexual and relationship violence, and to educate the campus community about these issues. Students share stories of their experience with sexual or relationship violence, either through anonymous submission or by reading about it at the vigil. All members of the Georgia Tech community are encouraged to attend in order to support and elevate the voices of survivors.
Georgia Tech’s sexual violence prevention and response initiative, VOICE, is focusing this year’s SAAM campaign on the idea that every single member of the Georgia Tech community has a role in ending sexual violence.
“We believe the small actions of our community members have the potential to help change our culture over time,” said Sexual Violence Prevention Specialist Lee Helmken, co-leader of VOICE in the Office of Health Promotion, who also pointed out the growth of the VOICE initiative. “It has been a big year for VOICE. We hired two full-time victim-survivor advocates last summer — Katy Berteau and Jennifer Gagen — and the VOICE team is now fully located in Health Promotion, part of the new Center for Community Health and Wellbeing. This additional support for survivors is pivotal, given that about one in five women, and one in 17 men, experience sexual assault by the time they graduate from college. We know that this is an issue that affects people of all gender identities and compromises the safety and wellbeing of our entire community.”
VOICE Day of Action: Teal Ribbon Day is April 14
Teal is the color of sexual violence awareness, and Helmken says the third annual Teal Ribbon Day is a reminder that “as long as sexual violence impacts any one of us — students, colleagues, friends, family members — it impacts all of us.”
VOICE staff in Health Promotion are mailing teal ribbons to staff and faculty to wear on Thursday, April 14, and will be making ribbons available to students in the weeks leading up to the event.
“It will be incredibly powerful to show a unified display of support for survivors and advocacy for sexual violence prevention across campus,” Helmken said.
VOICE wants supporters to wear the teal ribbon and take a photo of themselves, colleagues/friends, or department/student organization, and submit the photos, along with name and affiliation, to firstname.lastname@example.org on April 14. Submissions should include a statement of how or why the participants are supporting this VOICE Day of Action, so each photo can be captioned. VOICE will share the photos on the Health Promotion Facebook page. VOICE also wants participants to share their photo on their own department or personal social media page, tagging Health Promotion (@BuzzOnHealthGT) and using #EndRapeCultureGT.
VOICE will staff an information table on Tech Walkway (rain location in the Student Center) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 14. All members of the Tech community are invited to stop by to pick up ribbons, take a photo, and learn more about how to work toward ending sexual violence at Georgia Tech.
For additional information and resources, visit www.voice.gatech.edu.