UIS observes Sexual Assault Awareness Month


Photograph courtesy of Aerie Nguyen/UIS Women's Center

John Kurecki, Features Reporter

This April is national Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and the UIS Women’s Center is sponsoring plenty of events that coincide with the month’s theme.

UIS Women’s Center director Lynn Otterson stated that most of the events will be advertised through the Center’s Facebook page, UIS’ campus announcements, UIS Connection, the Campus Channel, and signs.  According to Otterson, there will be at least four more events this month relating to SAAM.

Chief among the Women’s Center’s events this month will be the Take Back the Night March and Rally, which has become a tradition at UIS.  The event protests violence against women, demonstrating that the hours after dark must be made safer, or taken back.  This will be the 9th Take Back the Night event at UIS.

The Women’s Center is a key institution on the UIS campus and is the main advocate for SAAM events.  According to the UIS website, “The Women’s Center offers information, support, advocacy, referrals, and programming on a variety of gender-related issues: sexual violence and harassment, relationship and dating violence, and stalking.”

Among other events already held are an ECCE Speakers Series event led by UIS alumni Kyle Simpson, who’s topic, according to the university, was speaking “on his role working on legislation addressing and reducing violence against women and ending college sexual violence,” and the “10 Paper Cranes to Heal the Violence” event, which is an art project that will eventually be displayed at the Take Back the Night event later this month.

Both the Women’s Center and UIS as a whole offer many different programs in an attempt to eradicate sexual violence from college campuses.  The Women’s Center’s website offers contact information for three separate 24-hour hotlines, as well as an “incident log”, which allows one to “track occurrences that may or may not turn out to be harmful.”

The Women’s Center also works with the UIS Police Department to offer courses around the “Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) System”, which the UIS Police defines as “a program of realistic, self-defense tactics and techniques.”  According to the police department’s website, “The R.A.D. System is a comprehensive course for women that begins with awareness, prevention, risk reduction and avoidance, while progressing onto the basics of hands-on defense training.”  The course is tailored for women and, as such, is not offered to men.

The Police Department states that, in the event of an assault, a number of resources, including the UIS Police, the Women’s Center, and the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, among others, “are available to assist you with counseling, your decision to report the crime, help you find the resources you need, and response to requests to change your academic or living situation because of the attack.”

The Women’s Center and Residence Life will be holding the 9th Take Back the Night March and Rally on April 22 at 8:30 p.m. at the colonnade on campus.  Other events related to SAAM will be advertised through the Center’s Facebook page, as well as around campus and on the Campus Channel.