Katie Cline, Editor-in-chief
According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency,1,988 rapes were reported by county and municipal agencies in Alabama in 2015—a 5 percent increase from 2014. In 79 percent of the rapes, the victim and offender knew or were related to each other.
These are some of the statistics that the students in Dr. Teresa Reed’s honors lecture class hope to bring to light through their Drive Out Sexual Assault supply drive for 2nd Chance, Inc.
“I think this project is important because sexual violence is one of those things that’s kept hush-hush,” said James Thompson, a senior psychology major in Reed’s class. “Not really on purpose, but indirectly, because people don’t talk about it. Or if they do, it’s only with one or two people; it doesn’t get out, so we forget it exists. But it does exist, and it’s affecting people.”
The inspiration for the project came from the freshman summer reading book, “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town” by Jon Krakauer. Reed’s class chose to sponsor a supply drive for 2nd Chance, Inc., a local rape crisis center. Donated items will be given to sexual assault victims after they receive forensic exams.
The project hits close to home for Laci Gurganus, a freshman accounting major. She volunteered at child advocacy center the past two summers where she was exposed to case files and interviews with child survivors of physical and sexual assault.
“This was reading that I don’t want to say I enjoyed, but I found it important and thought-provoking,” Gurganus said. “I read that book in two sittings, and I couldn’t put it down. And that was almost a year ago, so being able to do this project now has been a very fulfilling experience. I’ve been able to put all my thoughts and feelings about how those sexual assault victims were treated into an actual, tangible project.”
According to the National Sexual Assault Resource Center, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. More than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault, and 81 percent of women and 35 percent of men report significant short-term or long-term impacts such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“These statistics are shocking and should evoke a call to action,” the students said in a collaborative statement to The Chanticleer. “Our class decided to raise awareness about sexual assault on campus as a way reduce those numbers on our campus.””
Drive Out Sexual Assault is set to begin on March 28 and will run until the week of final exams in April. Items for donation include individually wrapped snack items, bottled water, menstrual pads, travel size toiletry items, toothbrushes, hair brushes or combs, packs of computer paper, two-pocket folders, paper towels, cleaning supplies, grocery store tote bags, yoga mats and restaurant gift cards.
Boxes will be placed in the TMB, Stone Center, Martin Hall, Bibb Graves, Ayers Hall, Mason Hall and the residence halls.
“We, along with 2nd Chance, Inc., believe that victims have already been through a humiliating and dehumanizing experience and that we should be sending them home with proper supplies and support rather than in a hospital gown,” the student statement said.