Ready! Set! Glow!: Ashland University raises sexual assault awareness on campus through fundraising event

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Ready! Set! Glow!: Ashland University raises sexual assault awareness on campus through fundraising event

Gracie Wilson

Gracie Wilson

Gracie Wilson

Gracie Wilson

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The month of April is here and while it calls attention to April Fools, taxes, Easter and sunny weather, the Ashland University community is making April something much more by calling attention to sexual assault awareness.

April is sexual assault awareness month and Ashland University held an action week during the first week of the month. Action week included sexual assault awareness activities such as It’s on Us pledge signings, the Clothesline project and glow yoga.

“I think Ashland’s done a really good job of advocating [sexual assault awareness,]” Bethany Bacus, sophomore nursing major, said. “I think they’re doing a good job of trying to make everyone feel safe and promoting safety on campus.”

Ashland University is part of the national It’s on Us campaign which involves student signed pledges to help combat sexual assault.

“It’s on Us is a very simple thing,” Kimberly Lammers, Director of Residence Life and Commuter Services, said. “It’s saying ‘I pledge that I am not going to be part of sexual assault, I’m going to be a positive bystander’.”

The campaign is a model that other colleges and universities participate in nationwide. There are action weeks twice a year with the campaign, in October during domestic violence awareness month and the first week of April as part of sexual assault awareness month, Lammers said.

The action week on Ashland’s campus this year was comprised of shirts with messages on them about sexual assault awareness as part of the clothesline project, and glow yoga in Redwood Hall.

“I thought [glow yoga] was very nice,” Bacus said. “I was impressed with how many people were there, the turnout was a lot more than I anticipated it to be, which was nice to see because of the awareness it was raising.”

Glow yoga had their largest turnout this year, Lammers said. “The exciting part about that is we’re going to have to reassess the venue we use, and next year we might need a bigger venue.”

When glow yoga began, it was around ten students in the yard outside of Clayton, but it has grown into something much bigger, Lammers said.

The message of glow yoga was centered around friendship and the importance of friends in life as well as how to be a listening, positive and non-judgmental friend.

“Yoga is all about setting an intention for yourself,” Bacus said. “So, either setting an intention of being that good friend or appreciating the good friends that you have in your life. So, I thought that was a good message to have, especially because sometimes we don’t think about it very much in our day to day lives. Just to have a set amount of time to think about it and reflect on it while being in a group together with the same kind of cause was pretty nice.”

The message centered around friendship allows those who have gone through sexual assault to know there are friends they can count on and for supporters of victims to know how they can be a good friend in these situations.

“It’s good for people who haven’t been in these situations, and to look for cardinal signs for their friends that may have gone through it or how to help someone else who is going through it who isn’t their friend,” Bacus said.

Ashland University works hand in hand with Safe Haven, an organization whose goal is stated to “provide prevention, intervention, support, and advocacy with emphasis on empowerment to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, intimate partner violence and stalking in Ashland Country, 24 hours a day 365 days a year.”

Ashland University and safe Haven were given a grant for 10,000 dollars for this academic year. The idea of the grant is to bring community resources together with university resources, Lammers said.

“We acquired the strengthening community partnerships grant,” Lammers said. “That was from the Ohio Department of Higher Education. It was a grant we wrote last spring…and it is working alongside Safe Haven.”

Safe Haven also has a presence on the Ashland University campus. Safe Have and the administration on campus worked to bring an office for safe haven on campus so that members of the Ashland University community can seek help without leaving campus, Lammers said.

The grant not only brought Safe Haven to campus, but also encourages the relationship between the university and the organization to provide assistance and resources to the students, faculty and staff.

“Since we have created this grant, Safe Haven has created a sexual assault response team,” Lammers said. “That involves Ashland University, it involves the sheriff and police departments, the prosecuting attorneys, the hospitals and support services. I think that makes us as an Ashland community stronger.”

By creating this response team, and as a result of the grant, there are more available resources for students who have been a victim or a bystander of sexual assault. Action week is one small step in making students more aware of the issue and the resources available.

“There’s a lot of people who suffer in silence,” Bacus said. “This week gives people a time to feel comfortable with speaking out, seeking help [when] maybe at other times they wouldn’t feel comfortable enough to do so. It’s so common that people go through things like this, but people don’t even realize it because they do suffer in silence.”

There are campuses nationwide that are taking pledges, taking action and speaking out through programs such as It’s on Us and action week.

More people are getting into the events on campus, and more people are talking about the issues and having deep conversations, Lammers said.

“The more we built awareness around it, and the more that we make it not such a taboo subject to talk about, I think it’s building around that education and awareness,” Lammers said.

From glow yoga getting a bigger turnout to more awareness being spread around campus, the message is being spread about sexual assault awareness. Students on campus can get involved even more by not just going to these awareness events, but also being a part of planning them.

We’re always looking for volunteers for our committee,” Lammers said. “Anyone who’s interested at all…we love to have student representation.

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