by: Saimah Shareef
About one in 20 United States female college students will be a “victim of a completed or attempted rape in a given year,” according to a 2000 Justice Department report in an Al Jazeera America article. In an effort to take initiative against sexual assault, Benedictine University Police has sponsored a Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention seminar to take place in the Krasa Student Center Presentation Room from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 12th.
Professional speaker Karli Johnson, who is a Prevention Educator from the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago office, will give the presentation. The focus of the presentation will be sexual assault and acquaintance rape awareness. According to Johnson’s LinkedIn profile, she presents educational violence prevention programming to Dupage County schools, ranging from elementary to college level programs. In addition to public speaking community programs, Johnson also is responsible for the development and implementation of a number of programs specific to sexual assault prevention, according to the same profile.
“We have had seminars like this going on since 2006 that I am aware of,” said Michael Salatino, Chief of Benedictine University Police. “It’s an ongoing program that we believe is important for our community, and we hope to open it up to more individuals now.”
It was just last semester that an alleged sexual assault took place on the Benedictine University campus. Following that, the university hosted its very first women’s self-defense class. As an attempt to continue this initiative towards more awareness regarding sexual assault, the seminar is being carried out in a few weeks.
Salatino expressed how the presentation should be a way to educate the campus community, as well as talk about issues that are not openly discussed. He stressed the importance of both males and females to understand what the declaration of no means in a potentially dangerous situation, especially if impairment is a factor. He also mentioned the impact sexual assault has on potential victims and perpetrators, making it vital for administrators to try and provide as many tools and resources for their students as possible.
According to their website, the YWCA provides assistance to victims of sexual assault, educates about the effects of violence in the community, and promotes general health and wellness through their Sexual Violence and Support Services. Because the Chicago metro YWCA has enough standing victim assistance and outreach as well as a speaker’s bureau, BenU police thought it would be a good idea to tap into their expertise. After much research in looking for individuals who have experience speaking with college age people, they came across Johnson.
“The presentation is not made to over sensitize anyone to think that there’s a rapist around every corner. It’s merely awareness education. However, if you’re going to attend, bring a friend!” said Salatino.
He urges students to come and bring their friends because another focus of the presentation will be bystander awareness education. It will provide third party individuals, whether they be friends or witnesses to an assault case, with education on how to come forward and report a sexual assault. He hopes that the turnout of this event will be successful and hopes to continue hosting programs that will raise awareness regarding sexual assault as the semester continues.