ASUU to Highlight Sexual Assault Month in Place of Mental Health Week


Grad student in health promotion and education, Esther Okang, shows her message on mental health awareness. Monday, April 11, 2016.

By Ashley Baker

Derek Eyre, Associated Students of the University of Utah’s (ASUU) Student Advocacy Director, is heading up a new campaign geared toward raising awareness for sexual assault survivors. In 2010, Former president Barack Obama declared April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In conjunction with this,  ASUU will roll out a campaign focused on sexual assault awarness to what was previously Mental Health Awareness Week.

Student Advocacy collaborated with the Center for Student Wellness to organize one month of events centered around shedding light on issues surrounding sexual assault. This month’s theme, “Engage Voices. Challenge Rape Culture,” is intended to raise awareness, education and prevention of sexual violence among students at the U and throughout the state.

“The reason [ASUU] chose to raise awareness for survivors of sexual violence is because a lot of students who aren’t affected directly by this type of event, may not realize everything that something of this magnitude entails,” said ASUU President Jack Bender.

Although the U will no longer recognize Mental Health Awareness Week, the issue has not been completely disregarded.

Eyre, along with Director of Academic Affairs Kevin Yang, have a smaller initiative planned closer to the end of the semester.

“It’s there to help students get through finals week, we know that’s a tough time for a lot of people,” said Bender.

This year, ASUU worked with the Utah Student Association (USA) to address a variety of topics surrounding mental health in an effort to create a unified message among college campuses across the state of Utah.

“USA has changed the overall [mental health] campaign and revamped its structure,” said Bender.

The organization produced a video featuring representatives from all of Utah’s colleges and universities that discusses the alarming number of students in the state who become victims of suicide. The video encourages students to be kind, inclusive, and engaging.

USA, ASUU and Utah System of Higher Education Student Regents spent the 2017 Utah State Legislative Session working with state government officials to pass H.C.R. 16 — A Concurrent Resolution Declaring Mental Health Issues to be a Public Health Crisis at Utah Higher Education Institutions. Gov. Gary Herbert signed the resolution on March 20.

April’s Sexual Violence Awareness month began with Photo Booth Kickoff, an event that gave students an opportunity to discuss ways that they support survivors of sexual violence.

Other events include:

Bystander Intervention Training

Date: April 12, 12 to 2 p.m.

Location: Union Den

“I Don’t Get it”:  Taking a Closer Look at Rape Culture

Center for Student Wellness

Speakers: Jenna Templeton and

Maya Jolley

Date: April 13, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Location: Union Den

Centering Margins within Movement 

Speakers: Jodi Petersen and Darrah Jones from the Center for Student Wellness

Date: April 19, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Location: Audre Lorde Student Lounge (Union 293)

Protecting U: Introducing New Policy on Sexual Violence

Speakers: Ella Blanchard

and Romeo Jackson

from LGBT Resource Center, Liz Owens from Planned Parenthood

Date: April 19, 2:30 to 4 p.m.

Location: Union Theatre

Barriers to Reporting: Why Survivors Remain Silent

Presenters: Sherrie Hayashi from the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, dean of students Lori McDonald

Date: April 20, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Location: Union, Parlor A

Panelists: Heather Horstmeier from Campus Police, Julie Stephenson from the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Phoebe Galvez from the Rape Recovery Center, Liz Prince from the Office for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. Moderator: Susan Chamberlain from the U’s counseling center.

[email protected]