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Awareness week brings sexual violence prevention campaign to MSU campus

March 31, 2023
<p>Support ribbons at the “Understanding the Trauma of Sexual Assault and Supporting Survivors" discussion on Oct. 29, 2018.</p>

Support ribbons at the “Understanding the Trauma of Sexual Assault and Supporting Survivors" discussion on Oct. 29, 2018.

Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

Bringing sexual assault prevention education programs to campus, Michigan State University’s spring "It’s On Us Week of Action" will begin on Monday, April 3 and run through Friday, April 7. 

MSU’s Prevention, Outreach and Education, or POE, department hosts a week of student-led programs and events twice a year as a chapter.

POE peer education manager Alex Babbitt said a primary mission is to make the nationwide campaign specific to MSU. Babbitt said the department is particularly proud the initiative is “student-driven, but staff-supported.”

“It provides actionable opportunities for students to get involved and learn,” Babbitt said. “We're not just hosting some speakers, but we're trying to give folks tangible skills, tangible learning outcomes and things to take away with them.” 

The initiative hopes to center MSU students by spreading awareness, sharing involvement opportunities and creating space for healing, POE associate director Matea Caluk said.

“We are genuinely invested in creating a community of care at MSU to prevent gender-based violence and to support folks who have experienced it or continue to experience it,” Caluk said. “Based on the climate survey that we received, POE is very much committed in continuing to develop strategies to prevent this violence.”


The week will open with two events on Monday: a tabling event outside of Wells Hall from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. featuring free giveaways and a healthy relationships vision-boarding activity in the STEM Teaching and Learning Facility from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Babbitt said the goal of the vision-boarding activity is to facilitate a creative and engaging way to think about healthy relationships.

“We could go to a lecture and talk about, ‘this is what a healthy relationship is, this is what an unhealthy relationship is,’ but that's not always the most engaging space for students,” Babbitt said. “We walk through tenants of a healthy relationship, building the foundation of consent, and then we use creativity to envision for yourself, what does a healthy relationship look like, sound like, feel like for me, and how can I creatively display that somewhere?”


On Tuesday, students, faculty and staff can attend a “Lunch and Learn” about healthy boundaries at Brody Hall in room 175 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. The program, which focuses on determining personal boundaries and how to enforce them, is part of a three-part personal empowerment series hosted by POE throughout the year.

The first two workshops in the empowerment series discuss physical skills and cyber safety. Caluk said the boundaries workshop was included in the week's events because of the positive feedback the department received from students.

She said it is particularly important that the workshop is survivor-centered.

“(Students) want to talk about, what does this mean, how do I think about this, do I write it down, do I just say it, what do I do?” Caluk said. “It's never the fault of the survivor. Yes, we may talk about boundaries, we may talk about how to create boundaries and how to share our boundaries. But it's not our fault if someone chooses to violate our boundaries.”

A Know More Survey results discussion will also be held on Tuesday over Zoom from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Know More Survey was first created at MSU in 2019 and has been conducted twice, the most recent results released in January 2023. The survey looks at the perceptions and prevalence of sexual violence among students, faculty and staff.


On Wednesday, a Bandana Project activity will be held in Brody Square from noon to 2 p.m. The Bandana Project is a national campaign that raises awareness about sexual violence in farm worker communities.

The event will bring awareness to the issue and include a bandana decorating activity as a symbol of solidarity with farmworker women who are targeted for sexual assault, Caluk said.

Thursday and Friday

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A virtual and cyber safety workshop will take place on Thursday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. in Brody Hall room 175. The week will end with a plant pot painting activity outside Wells Hall on Friday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

POE partners with MSU Safe Place and Center for Survivors in order to plan this week in a survivor-centered way.

Babbitt said the initiative is made to focus on empowerment and safety, not to add to trauma or negative feelings. Safe Place and Center for Survivors representatives are also included in the planning committee, Caluk said.

“On our end, making sure that we prioritize the safety and the comfortability of survivors and making sure that our content is survivor-focused, and then paying attention to every detail and making sure that we are staying true to that is helping navigate that balance,” Babbitt said. “Also making sure that the week of action includes opportunities for folks who maybe are interested in talking about these topics, but in a way that is maybe a little less direct.”


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