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Sexual Assault Awareness Week begins

Sarah Mervosh | Monday, February 23, 2009

The Gender Relations Center is hosting events to increase awareness about sexual assault and spark discussion during this week’s Sexual Assault Awareness Week, said Laura Lauck, the student assistant at the Gender Relations Center.

Lauck said the posters displayed around campus for Sexual Assault Awareness Week represent the goals of the week because the posters are of a face without eyes and an X in place of a mouth.

“The lack of eyes [means] we need to be aware and open our eyes to the problem that sexual assault causes,” Lauck said. “The X is like we need to talk about it. And don’t be afraid to talk about it just because it is Notre Dame.”

A prayer service for sexual assault survivors will be held at 7 p.m. tonight at the Log Chapel. Following the prayer service will be a march around campus and a bonfire on Holy Cross Hill where students will have a “speak out,” student assistant for the Gender Relations Center Patrick Tighe said.

A “speak out” is about “breaking the silence,” Tighe said, who said it will be a time for survivors to account their experiences with sexual assault or rape.

“Anyone is welcome to come. You don’t have to be a sexual assault survivor. It can be supporters, allies, friends … anyone,” he said.

Lauck said the Gender Relations Center will have a resource table set up Tuesday through Thursday in both dining halls and in LaFortune. The tables will provide information not only to survivors of sexual assault, but also their friends and family, or anyone looking for general education on the topic.

There will be a forum Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the Reckers Hospitality Room to “address issues of sexual assault and rape here on campus,” Tighe said. The forum is hosted by the Committee on Sexual Assault Prevention and will bring together students, members of the Notre Dame Security Police and the Counseling Center to discuss the issue of sexual assault, Tighe said.

“You just go there and you see the current policy and there will be a discussion on your thoughts on the policy,” Tighe said. The discussion will also include what changes are needed in the University’s sexual assault policy. Stacy Nadeau from the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty will speak in DeBartolo 102 at 7 p.m. Thursday, Lauck said.

A faculty and student dinner will take place Friday at Legends from 5 to 7:30 p.m., Lauck said. The dinner is called “A Time to Heal,” which is named after a verse from the Bible, she said.

“Faculty will be speaking,” Lauck said. “And then a couple student survivors of sexual assault will also be speaking at it.”

Lauck said everyone is invited to attend the dinner, but those who are interested should RSVP to the Gender Relations Center via e-mail today.

“Here at Notre Dame, it is a Catholic institution. But [sexual assault] happens and we can’t deny that it happens,” Luack said. “We need to make sure help is getting out to [survivors].”