Rogers State University is taking a stand against sexual violence.
On April 25, RSU will host Take Back the Night, an event designed to raise awareness about sexual assault and dating violence. The event will feature a vigil for survivors of sexual assault, an opportunity for survivors to share their stories, and a march across campus.
RSU will hold the event in partnership with Safenet Services, an organization dedicated to serving women and children who have experienced domestic violence. Director of Student Development Katy Launius said she hopes the event not only informs students but empowers survivors.
“Nearly one in four women ages 18-24 on college campuses will be sexually assaulted,” Launius said. “At RSU we want to do everything in our power to make sure our students and our community recognize sexual assault, know how to prevent it and feel comfortable reporting it.”
Donna Grabow, Executive Director of Safenet Services, said the organization offers free counseling by a licensed therapist and sexual assault support groups for survivors.
“I am very excited about Take Back the Night,” Grabow said. “This event is a first for RSU and great to bring awareness about sexual assaults, especially when 80 percent of the sexual assault victims are under 30 and 68 percent of all rapes go unreported. Help is in our community, and together we can emphasize and promote a culture of respect in all relationships.”
Take Back the Night is a non-profit organization that addresses sexual violence education and prevention around the world. Events have been educating communities and supporting survivors across the nation for more than 30 years.
Take Back the Night is one of several events RSU is holding during Sexual Assault Awareness month, held each year in April. The university will host a weekly self-defense course in partnership with the Claremore Police Department, which will be available to students free of charge on Thursdays in April. On April 20, RSU will present a campus screening of “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary that examines sexual assault on college campuses.
RSU will also host a Start by Believing campaign, which will encourage students and community members to believe women and men who come forward with reports of sexual violence. The RSU campaign will kick off on the Claremore campus on April 4, with student, faculty and staff volunteers joining the city’s campaign at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 6, on the steps of the Rogers County Courthouse.
“Sexual assault awareness doesn’t benefit just students; it benefits everybody,” Launius said. “Sexual violence can happen anywhere, including at work, at school and at home. We want to let people know it’s okay to speak out, it’s okay to talk about it, and, if it’s happened to you, it’s not your fault.”
This is not the school’s first time to address sexual violence on campus. RSU held a Start by Believing campaign on the Claremore campus in 2015. That same month, political science junior Andrew Hocutt won first place for mock legislation he presented at the annual Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature competition that would require college students to participate in a sexual assault prevention program during their first semester on campus.
For more information on how RSU addresses sexual assault and other gender-based misconduct, visit http://www.rsu.edu/thatsnotRSU or contact Launius at 918-343-7707.