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Sexual Assault Awareness Week: Programs foster communication, respect

ATHENS, Ohio (Sept. 25, 2006) -- Ohio University's Department of Health Education & Wellness is once again sponsoring a variety of events to bring the campus and the community awareness surrounding the issue of sexual assault. Events include the third annual March Against Sexual Assault on Tuesday, Sept. 26, and After Hours: Free Food, Karaoke, & Games! on Friday, Sept. 29.


There are a variety of student organizations involved in sponsoring the activities for Sexual Assault Awareness Week, including POWER(Promoting Ohio University Wellness Education and Responsibility) , Safety Patrol, Alpha Gamma Delta, Delta Zeta, Phi Gamma Delta and the Department of Health Education and Wellness.


The march will start outside of Templeton Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium at the West Portico at 7 p.m. and will proceed through the East and South greens before it returns to the West Portico for a candlelight vigil.

"We want to bring awareness to the campus and community about issues of sex and assault," said Amanda Childress, assistant director of health education and wellness for sexual assault prevention and education at Ohio University.

POWER is the "Number one sponsor for the week," Childress said.

Kaleena Schmidt, graduate assistant and adviser for POWER, said that participants in the march will also have the chance to share in a "name burning" ceremony. This cathartic ritual involves writing the name of the alleged perpetrator and burning it.

"It is not just for people who were victimized," Schmidt says, "but for their supporters as well."   

Schmidt says that POWER especially encourages men to join the march, "not only because they can help reduce the risks of it happening, but because one in ten of college men are assaulted." As for female college students, one in four is assaulted each year.

"One of the things that many college students are not aware of is that if you try to have sex with someone who is impaired, that is assault," she said.

Char Kopchick, director of health education and wellness, explained why "drinking and sex is not a good combination." 

"You put yourself at risk for being charged with sexual assault, or of being sexually assaulted," she added. "If you do choose to drink or partake in a recreational drug on any given night and you meet someone, wait until the next day and call them. Then you can talk about what kind of relationship you want to have with that person."

Kopchick says one way to reduce the risk of sexual assault it to create a good support system. 

"If you see a friend in a potential situation, you tell your friend, 'hey, let's go home.' The next day people are appreciative," she says. "That's what it means to be a good friend, or be human and care about a person."

Sexual Assault Awareness Week kicked off Sept. 18 with three-time National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) nominee for lecturer of the year, Bob Hall's speech titled, "Nonviolent Sexuality: How not to get run over by your drive!" Hall, who is also a board member of the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, took a non-adversarial/ resolution-oriented approach to the issue of alcohol and sexual violence on compass to a crowd of about 300 people.

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Media Contact: Assistant Director of Health Education and Wellness for Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Amanda Childress, (740) 593-4744 or childrea@ohio.edu

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