ASGCU pushes for continued awareness of campus sexual assault prevention
By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau
Among the many goals Grand Canyon University’s student government and staff have set this year, one is to broaden the conversation about sexual assault prevention.
To build attention around the issue, the Associated Students of GCU supported the “It’s On Us” national movement in November when it encouraged others to take a stand against violence during a weeklong campaign.
On Thursday, ASGCU is hosting its first Sexual Assault Awareness Event to further work to educate students about the crime and help ensure that GCU remains safe through ongoing growth and expansion. Students and staff are invited to hear keynote speaker Doreen Nicholas, training coordinator for the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence, at 6 p.m. in Building 6, Rooms 139-140. Informational materials about sexual violence will be available, and refreshments will be served.
Andrea Hamilton, administrative vice president of ASGCU, said the hope is to keep an active dialogue.
“We decided this year that we wanted to continue with the ‘It’s On Us’ week of action and then in the spring semester to keep the momentum with visibility and awareness by holding two separate events – this upcoming event, and a second one in March,” Hamilton said. “We have been working to improve what we do in regards to ‘It’s On Us’ and we’re still trying to find the best way to keep the ideals and values of our University in mind as we are continuing this conversation.”
While GCU creates a positive living and learning community, Hamilton said, it is still necessary to shed light on the issue.
“We are an incredibly unique University and we have been blessed with a lot of great resources, faculty and students. Although there is something very special here, we don’t want that to blind the student body or faculty,” Hamilton said. “Unfortunately, these things do happen on campus or off campus and we don’t want anyone to think that we are putting up this façade of being a perfect Christian university. We are a community and we need to know how to care for and help one another.”
According to a study by the U.S. Department of Justice, 1 in 5 women are victims of attempted or completed sexual assault while they are college students, compared to 1 in 16 men.
In 2014-15, 15 sexual assaults on and off GCU’s campus were reported to the University’s Public Safety office, and many of them were perpetrated by a significant other or close friend, said Kenny Laird, associate director of Public Safety.
Laird said the University ranks low among other colleges in the number of sexual assault reports. But, he said, any number of sexual assaults is too many.
“Public Safety works closely with ASGCU on the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign, among a few others, we do a rape aggression defense training, and we have great communication with our students,” Laird said. “Still, we would like to see that number at zero.”
The majority of sexual assaults on college campuses are not reported, largely because victims are too emotionally overwhelmed and often blame themselves, Hamilton said.
“It is a subject that people don’t want to talk about because it is difficult to understand and to sympathize with people who have experienced sexual assault, but even if it’s just one person that’s there or one person that learns something, that makes it worth it,” Hamilton said. “One of the bigger points of the campaign is that anyone can be an active bystander. You can step in and help someone. You can stop a situation even if you don’t know the person.”
Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or firstname.lastname@example.org.