April is focused on sexual violence awareness, but remotely

Take Back the Night marchers

When the University of Oregon announced that spring term 2020 would be provided remotely, organizers of Sexual Assault Awareness Month had to shift gears.

The month of April — usually packed with collaborative, in-person events and workshops by UO departments and off-campus partners — would need to transition to online programming.

“The manner of engagement has definitely changed, but we’re still committed to creating a community that is dedicated to supporting survivors and preventing sexual violence,” said Rituparna Roy, assistant director of sexual violence prevention and education in the Office of the Dean of Students.

“The present COVID-19 health crisis can lead to feelings of isolation for some, and we want students to know that social distancing doesn’t mean that they are alone,” she said.

Activities throughout the month will focus on support and solidarity with survivors, the practice of consent and healthy relationships. Most programming will be delivered through the department’s Instagram and Facebook social media channels. All event organizers are creating their programs with privacy and online safety in mind, Roy said.

The month has traditionally culminated with the Take Back the Night rally, march and speak-out. This year the UO Women’s Center will instead host a remote movement April 27-30 to support survivors and amplify the voices of marginalized communities.

“We recognize that supporting victims and survivors of sexual and domestic violence is essential, especially as people are experiencing unprecedented levels of isolation due to social distancing and quarantines, possibly in the same home with their abusers,” said Fatima Roohi Pervaiz, director of the UO Women's Center.

“We will continue to feature our original rally speakers, addressing the intersections of sexual and domestic violence and their respective experiences and communities,” she said, adding that the event will be prerecorded and archived, so people can view it when it is safe for them to do so.

Support services are still available to students, even if they are residing off campus or out of town for spring term. If students would like to speak with a confidential staff member, they can contact the University Counseling CenterCrisis Intervention and Sexual Violence Support Services or call the 24-hour hotline at 541-346-SAFE.

By Colleen Schlonga, Student Services and Enrollment Management