UWL students race to raise sexual assault awareness

One in five women report some type of sexual violence in their life.

April is sexual violence awareness month and all month long University of Wisconsin-La Crosse students are getting an education on how to prevent it.

It looked a lot like the Amazing Race on campus Thursday night because of the third annual Ultimate Race for Sexual Assault Awareness. Fifteen teams of students raced to eight different locations across campus, each one with a challenge educating them about sexual assault.

“One-in-four, 1-in-5 college women by the time they graduate a four-year institution will be a survivor of sexual assault or rape,” UWL graduate student Kallen Anderson said.

At UWL, 33 sexual assaults have been reported on campus already this school year. But these students are learning ways to prevent another one from happening.

“It’s events like this that really focus on not only the education, kind of the afterwards, but also what can we do as a campus here at UWL and as a community for the rest of our lives to help prevent sexual assault among all people,” Anderson said.

Each station in the Ultimate Race for Sexual Assault Awareness was at a sexual assault prevention, education or assistance area on campus.

At the Residence Life Office students were asked fact or fiction questions about sexual assault.

“Because it’s not always the most pleasant or comfortable topic, I’m glad that we’re addressing it and trying to work on preventative measures rather than after something happens,” UWL senior Hayley Powers said.

“It also just shows that this is something that we care about and we want students to know that we as a campus will do what we can to handle these situations as best we can,” UWL senior Michael Long said.

Students said sexual assault may not be an easy topic to talk about now, but hopefully the race will bring that to the finish line as well at UWL.

“I think that, hopefully, by doing this we would be able to set ourselves apart as a school who’s willing to talk about it and not just sweep it under the rug,” Powers said.

Other stations in the race included tongue twisters to simulate a victim having to repeat their story up to five times, and going through obstacles as a team to show the emotional and physical challenges a sexual assault victim can face.

If you have any questions about sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking or other related issues, contact UWL’s violence prevention specialist at 608-785-8062. If you need immediate help, call Great Rivers at 211. It is a 24-hour service. If it’s an emergency, call 911.