April 2021 marks the official 20th anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is recognizing the month through a series of in-person and virtual events dedicated to raising awareness about sexual assault and prevention.
UT’s Center for Health Education and Wellness, in collaboration with the Center for Student Engagement, the Department of Child and Family Studies, the College of Social Work, the Office of Title IX, and Teaching and Learning Innovation, has planned programming to educate and encourage students, faculty, staff, and community members to take action and serve as active bystanders prepared to prevent and respond to potential situations of sexual harassment.
“Sexual assault is a community issue, so it takes a community approach. We talk about being an active bystander because that action has the power to change lives,” said Bilqis Amatus-Salaam, wellness coordinator with the Center for Health Education and Wellness. “When we speak up, we send a message about our values—and our university’s values are all about helping others, especially when it may be difficult. Being an active bystander is being a Volunteer.”
CHEW provides educational opportunities throughout the year to learn more about being an active bystander, consent, healthy relationships, and sexual health. Sexual Assault Awareness Month serves as a dedicated time to remind the UT community that resources are available and where those in need can turn to for support.
“It’s important to take time to reflect on how we can all be a part of the solution and then take action to be a part of that solution—whether that’s participating in a workshop or committing to be an active bystander,” said Amatus-Salaam.
Committed Every Day, all month
The Center for Health Education and Wellness wants to celebrate and highlight members of the UT and greater Knoxville community who are committed to ending sexual assault. Submit your story online.
SAAM Day of Action, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 6, at the Student Union Plaza
This event aims to raise awareness and start a conversation about sexual assault by encouraging participants to wear teal and share plans for how they’ll take action. Posters for coloring are available for download on CHEW’s website. Participants can post a selfie or a photo of their finished poster using #SAAM and #CultureofRespect and tagging @volshelpvols on Twitter and Instagram.
An Evening with Chanel Miller, 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 6
Hosted by the Campus Events Board and the Center for Student Engagement, this virtual event features a moderated conversation with Chanel Miller, author of the bestselling memoir Know My Name. The event is free and open to the public.
Vols ACT Bystander Training for Graduate Students, Faculty, and Staff, multiple sessions throughout the month
Bystander training teaches participants how to identify sexual harassment behaviors and red flags, understand the effects of harassment in academia, and apply VOLS ACT to real-world situations to prevent and respond to sexual harassment. Visit CHEW’s website for session dates and times.
Wellness Wednesday: Denim Day, 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 28, at the Student Union Plaza
To combat misconceptions that surround sexual violence, participants are encouraged to wear denim and share a selfie on Denim Day. Participants can also write messages of support to survivors on denim patches on campus or download a digital patch to write a message.
Vols Care, all month
This informal 15-minute presentation includes a Q&A for student groups and organizations. Designed to fit within a regular meeting, it shows students how to support a friend and prevent harmful situations by being an active bystander. Resources for support will be shared. Request a virtual presentation.
For more information on Sexual Assault Awareness Month and sexual harassment resources, visit CHEW’s website.
Maddie Stephens (865-974-3993, firstname.lastname@example.org)