News For You — Episode 9: Sexual Assault Awareness Month


Mary Allen

(Design by Mary Allen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


Emma Ratkovic  0:03  

Hello, and welcome back to News For U, the Daily Utah Chronicle news podcast. I’m Emma and on today’s episode of the podcast, we’re going to talk about the U’s effort to open conversations about sexual assault and awareness. Due to this episode’s subject matter, this conversation may contain sensitive content on sexual violence. News writer Stevie Shaughnessy has met with us today to discuss her recent story on sexual assault awareness month at the U. Hi, Stevie! Thanks so much for joining us today on the podcast!


Stevie Shaughnessey  0:34  

Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here. 


Emma Ratkovic  0:36  

The month of April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In your story, you explained that this year’s campaign is called “We See U. We Believe U.” Can you tell us about the events that are being held for Sexual Assault Awareness Month?


Stevie Shaughnessey  0:48  

Yeah, there’s been events happening all throughout April. They started off the month with HIV testing clinics and STI testing clinics. They had a coffee with cops panel where people could come and talk to victim survivor advocacy tables to learn about resources at the U. They also had like film screenings to combat rape culture, and then just some other events celebrating the beauty of people. And there’s still some more coming up throughout the month. There’s one coming up on Friday, April 21. There’s going to be a dear sister event where you can write letters to a sister or a female-identifying person who has positively impacted your life after having experienced sexual violence. There’s also a solidarity safe space for survivors where you can come and drink tea and have donuts and pet therapy dogs. It’s just a safe place for people to come and have conversations about sexual assault. And that’s happening on April 24. And then there’s the last event for the month is going to be a “My Jeans” protest violence event, so they can come down to the union and people can write inspirational words on pieces of denim to, kind of just to support victims of sexual violence and sexual assault. And that will be occurring Monday through Wednesday on April 24 to April 26. 


Emma Ratkovic  1:48  

What is the main goal of Sexual Assault Awareness Month?


Stevie Shaughnessey  1:51  

For the U, a big goal of Sexual Assault Awareness Month is to really combat negative stereotypes and bring awareness to different aspects of sexual assault. Sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes to happen and it’s really important that people recognize this and realize that there are a lot of hidden aspects that they don’t see and don’t realize about sexual assault, and the U really wants to uphold their promise to believe, support and listen to victims throughout this month and throughout their year at the U. 


Emma Ratkovic  2:15  

In your story, you explained the statistics of sexual violence occurrences for college students. What did these statistics show? 


Stevie Shaughnessey  2:24  

So the statistics in my story were basically that one in five women and one in sixteen men will experience some sort of sexual assault throughout their time in college, and of these crimes, ninety percent of them actually go unreported, which I think is a super staggering statistic. Like it just makes you realize that there’s a lot that people don’t see about sexual assault and don’t realize, and with these statistics, like one five women, that’s, I mean, that could be anyone in your classes. That’s a lot of people on campus like it could really be, there’s people around you that have been sexually assaulted and have experienced this and you don’t even know. So it’s really important to be sensitive and realize that there’s a lot going on that you don’t realize and that you don’t recognize and it’s important to support these survivors and victims throughout Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 


Emma Ratkovic  3:02  

What resources are U faculty given to assist victims of sexual assault? 


Stevie Shaughnessey  3:08  

A lot of U faculty, they’re all trained to be mandatory reporters, so they know how to approach situations and support students if they’ve experienced sexual assault and to be there for them. They know the routes to take so that students can feel comfortable and know that they are supported. A lot of the faculty are also given language to put in their syllabi so that students know that their classrooms are a safe space and that they can go to faculty in need. And teachers and faculty really just want to create a safe space for students and know that they can go talk to them if needed and that there will be support if they ever experienced sexual assaults or violence. 


Emma Ratkovic  3:39  

What other resources do victims of sexual assault have access to on campus?


Stevie Shaughnessey  3:44  

If students don’t want to talk to faculty or their teachers, there are a lot of other resources they can turn to. There’s the Center for Student Wellness and also the U Campus Safety Department. Both have victim advocates that people can go to, to talk to, and to ask for help addressing the situation and just to talk to people about the situation. I don’t think a lot of students realize but other students are also a great support system. When they’ve experienced some sort of sexual violence, other students can really be a good support and like assuring them and helping them out and supporting them at any time of need. And I think students should be ready to support other students on campus to just create an environment where everyone feels comfortable, knows that they have resources, and have people to go to if something ever happens to them. 


Emma Ratkovic  4:23  

Moving forward, how does the U plan to approach future sexual assault incidents? 


Stevie Shaughnessey  4:28  

Throughout the past few years, the University of Utah’s really tried to expand their sexual assault resources for people on campus. They have victim advocates, they have more appointments, walk-ins, Center for Student Wellness, McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention and in the future they really want to keep expanding these resources and keep having students know that there’s stuff available for them, like maybe more appointments, more walk-ins, just more resources, more paths that they can take, stuff like that. But the U in general just wants students to know that they are listening and that if they have recommendations or have comments, they can tell them. Like, the U is very open to receiving that type of information from students and wants that feedback.


Emma Ratkovic  5:06  

Do you have any final thoughts or comments? 


Stevie Shaughnessey  5:09  

Just I think that it’s important to realize that sexual assault does happen and like, there’s stereotypes around it that a lot of people think that might not actually happen. So just keep an open mind about it and the support for sexual assault victims and survivors should continue after the month of April, it should be all year round. And I think it’s really important to show that support for people and just people to realize that there are resources if you need them at the U, and there are people who you can talk to. 


Emma Ratkovic  5:34  

Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today, Stevie.


Stevie Shaughnessey  5:36  

Awesome. Thank you for having me. 


Emma Ratkovic  5:38  

Thank you for listening to this week’s episode of News For U, the Daily Utah Chronicle news podcast. Make sure to tune into a new episode next Tuesday.


Executive Producer: Theadora Soter — [email protected] | @sotertheadora

Producer: Graham Jones — [email protected] | @grahamcool8

Host: Emma Ratkovic [email protected] | @eratkovic_news

Guest: Stevie Shaughnessey — [email protected] | @steviechrony