Teal Ribbon Campaign, Raising awareness about sexual assault
By Shayana Galliher
Throughout the month of September, students may have heard certain phrases being tossed around campus such as, “spin the bottle”, “date rape”, or “can I kiss you?” All of these slogans are actually titles of various events hosted at Northern Arizona University (NAU) this month, because what many people are unaware of is that September is “Sexual Assault Month.
In an attempt to spread awareness at NAU, an organization called the Teal Ribbon Campaign organizes public seminars, movies and informational meetings that focus on sexual assault and violence.
The Teal Ribbon Campaign stemmed from a small group of people who came together in the 1980s to set up support facilities for families dealing with sexual assault and violence. The people involved, participated in protest marches and rallies in order to fight for change.
At NAU, the Teal Ribbon Campaign is a branch of The Associated Students for Women’s Issues (ASWI); which was introduced to the university in 1994 shortly after someone had been sexually assaulted on campus. At that time, every women attending NAU was a member of ASWI.
Today, the ASWI continues to spread awareness the through education, outreach and advocacy.
Helping to empower students on campus is the new president of ASWI, Brooke Weber, who stresses that students have the power to make change.
“They can do something about it,” Weber says. “Every individual has the power to change, to make a difference in the world and a lot of the time they don’t see how.”
Weber wants to give students the tools to make a difference, whether it is big or small, and the Teal Ribbon Campaign is a good way to encourage this.
After years of being an organization many students have not heard of, Tara Butler, the NAU Teal Ribbon Campaign coordinator, is introducing creative ways to build awareness and support for sexual assault.
“ASWI hires one student to plan and organize the Teal Ribbon Campaign during the end of the year elections,” Butler says. “That student is then given funds for promoting the events.”
As the coordinator, Butler likes to work with other groups on campus such as M.A.R.S (Men Against Rape and Sexism), Health Promotions, Northland Family Center and the women’s and gender studies department (WGS).
“We team up with other organizations and groups and fight for good causes like the prevalence of rape on college campuses,” she says. “[We] support V-day by sponsoring the Vagina Monologues with donations going to the women of Haiti.”
All events that the Teal Ribbon Campaign organizes center on sexual assault, sexual violence and dating.
This year, an event hosted in the DuBois Center on Sept. 21,was a show called “Can I Kiss You”, which informed students how to stay safe while at a party or on a date.
Mike Domitrz, founder of The Date Safe Project,was the enthusiastic and witty speaker at the event. While discussing the serious subject of sexual assault, Domitrz lightened the mood with humor. The audience was interactive and remained captivated as he spoke of date rape and sexual assault. Domitrz informed students how to avoid being a victim of assault and how to do it in a non-confrontational way. He also touched on what is and is not appropriate during a date.
Rather than discouraging students from going to parties or going on dates, Domitrz showed them how to protect themselves and explained where to go for support when sexual assault does occur.
After his speech, the room was opened for discussion in which some students shared their stories about being sexually assaulted in the past.
One of the most enthused students in the audience was Marissa Blanco, a freshman psychology major. “I would recommend everyone to go to the show next year,” Blanco said, “It was a great experience for me, and I just loved it.”
Butler explains that she often receives good feedback from events such as this. “Students reported feeling enlightened with a new way of thinking,” Blanco said.
With the month almost over, events of the Teal Ribbon Campaign will subside until next September.
For anyone interested in ASWI, meetings are held on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. in the Havasupai room in the union. At every meeting the students get educated on many topics and are updated about upcoming events. For more information, contact ASWI@nau.edu.