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Students focus on assault

Eileen Duffy | Monday, November 15, 2004

Combining various elements like shocking posters, classic television and a comedy show, the Student Senate committee on gender relations presents “Be Aware,” or, Sexual Assault Awareness Week, beginning today and ending Friday.

The committee will be plastering posters around campus that proclaim shocking statistics like, “84 percent of rape victims knew their assailant,” and “A woman is 10 times more likely to be raped than to die in a car crash.”

“The statistics are in your face, and perhaps scary,” said Badin senator and chairperson of the gender relations committee Lizzie Shapell.

“We are hoping that the posters will start conversation and promote awareness among students,” said Stephanie Pelligra, Welsh Family senator and member of the committee on gender relations.

Wednesday evening, each dorm will host an event with its brother/sister dorm called “Must Sex TV,” focusing on the effect that popular television shows have had on gender relations. A 20-minute video montage of shows including “Saved by the Bell,” “Salute Your Shorts,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “The O.C.” will be followed by discussion and a free dinner.

“We are trying to reach students in an entertaining manner,” Shappell said. “As odd as that may sound.”

Pelligra is hoping the video will make people really think about how television shows have changed sexual perceptions.

“We were all thinking, how did our generation’s concept of sex and relationships come to be? We realized that television is one thing that really affected our generation,” Pelligra said. “We watched shows and discovered how our vision of sexuality has been skewed.”

The final event of Sexual Assault Awareness week is “Sex Signals,” a comedy show about the college-dating scene. The show begins at 9 p.m. Thursday night in the Decio Theatre of the Debartolo Performing Arts Center.

“The event asks tough questions, but presents the college dating scene in a humorous light,” Shappell said.

Mairin Amato, a Lewis Hall sophomore, praised the poster publicity campaign.

“These signs will definitely be attention-getters,” she said. “I think that listing facts will help students, especially females, realize that this can happen to them, and hopefully we will be able to prevent this from happening to each other or ourselves.”

Sophomore Mark Hotovy of Keenan Hall disagreed.

“Putting up these signs will have a similar effect to the ‘Gay fine by me’ shirts and the crosses in South Quad to make us more aware about abortion,” he said. “People will either think it is stupid, or it will get their attention for about 10 minutes before they forget about it.”

Audrey de Guire, a sophomore from Pasquerilla West Hall, was very interested in the “Must Sex TV” event.

“Taking examples from pop culture helps us relate to ‘the bigger issues,'” she said. “We may not know anyone who has been sexually assaulted, but seeing the characters we’re familiar with on TV, we can get some idea of how people deal with those situations, or how they happen.”

But for Shappell, she just hopes this week will raise awareness for all students.

“Our basic aim for the week is just to educate,” Shappell said. “We want to make people realize that sexual assault can happen at Notre Dame, and make sure that people understand the numbers.”