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Grinnell Advocates raise awareness for sexual assault with 1 in 6 event

Grinnell Advocates hosted the 1 in 6 event on Wednesday April 20 to raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual assault on undergraduate campuses. Photo by Ariel Richards.

Approximately 275 Grinnell students donned teal shirts on April 20 to represent the statistic that one in six undergraduate college students will experience some form of sexual violence during their time on campus. This event, called “1 in 6,” is hosted by the Grinnell Advocates, a student organization and support group, in order to raise awareness about sexual assault.

Grinnell Advocates is studentrun organization made up of student volunteers and overseen by Reverend Deanna Shorb, head of the Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice (CRSSJ) and Rabbi Susan Rheins.

Grinnell Advocates also runs a 24/7 hotline and LiveChat through which an advocate is always available during the academic year for students in need. A student organization can also request an Advocate be present at an event wherein there is potentially triggering content for support with two weeks prior notice. All Advocates have undergone 25 hours of training with the Crisis Intervention Services of Iowa to be able to provide confidential support and resources for students who are victims of dating or sexual violence.

Grinnell Advocates held the 1 in 6 event annually prior to the COVID-19 pandemic; they intend to hold it annually from this year onward. The event was created as an awareness campaign, and was held during April this year because it is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The biggest goal of handing out t-shirts is having that visual reminder -Katie Goodall `23, Advocate

The student leaders of Grinnell Advocates, Claire Kopachik `22, Katie Goodall `23 and Ascher Walker Wilson `23, said that the goals of this event were in line with their goals as an organization: spreading awareness of sexual assault on campus, promoting sexual respect and reminding students of resources related to response and prevention.

“The biggest goal of handing out t-shirts is having that visual reminder. … Once people actually see how many people are wearing t-shirts tomorrow, it’s a pretty significant chunk of student body,” said Goodall prior to the event.

“What we’re also trying to do is start dialogue around sexual assault because lots of folks care about sexual violence,” said Walker Wilson, “but they’re not used to talking about it. They don’t have a space or an opportunity to randomly sort of start that conversation, so this is a way for that to occur too.”

An additional resource available to victims of sexual assault are peer educators of the Sexual Health Information Center (SHIC). In addition to answering questions about sex, masturbation and birth control, SHIC peer educators like Leia Sohn `23 also fulfill the role of mandatory reporters.

Sohn said that her job as a mandatory reporter is to direct students who come to her with sensitive information regarding sexual assault towards resources they may need and ensure that Title IX Coordinator Bailey Asberry is able to reach out to them.

Sohn said, “Working at SHIC, sex positivity is a big part of what I do. I think it’s really really hard for people to talk about sexual assault and bring awareness to it if they can’t even talk about sex in the first place. It puts more stigma on the victim.”

Students the S&B spoke to were generally supportive of the event. Some of the first and second years said they were curious about the future of the event, and that they would consider participating next year. Of the students who did not participate in the event that S&B spoke with some said they were unaware of the 1 in 6 event taking place, and others said they saw more students actively speaking about the event on social media than they saw wearing teal shirts. One student said they were concerned about the possibility of triggering victims of sexual assault.

All participants the S&B spoke with said they would participate in the event again next year.

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