April 1 marks the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). As a campus community, we must acknowledge the importance of this month and foster a safe and supportive environment for Syracuse University students. Keep reading to learn more about Sexual Assault Awareness Month and some events you can attend on campus!

What Is Sexual Assault Awareness Month?

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, April 2024 marks the 23rd anniversary of SAAM. During the month of April, individuals and communities are encouraged to draw attention to the prevalence of sexual violence and educate themselves and others on how to prevent it. This is especially important on college campuses, as 13% of all college students will unfortunately experience sexual assault while attending school. We want to support and protect our friends and peers, and attending campus events this month is a great way to do so.

“The history behind Sexual Assault Awareness Month has been to highlight the prevalence of sexual violence and break the cycle of silence and stigma that survivors often encounter,” said Leslie Skeffington, assistant director for sexual and relationship violence prevention. “In addition to hoping our awareness efforts encourage a dialogue about prevention, it was especially important this year to create spaces across campus that cultivate a sense of community for survivors and their allies, promoting healing and empowerment among those impacted.”

Campus Events to Attend

Take Back the Night

Take Back the Night (TBTN) is an annual event for those impacted by sexual violence to share their stories, foster allyship and advocate for sexual assault awareness in a safe and inclusive space. This year, the event will take place on Wednesday, April 10, in the Schine Student Center, Panasci Lounge, 3rd Floor, from 8-10:30 p.m. The night will include hors d’oeuvres, ice cream, art, a survivor speak-out and performances by Creations Dance Company.

“What Can I Do?” Conversations to End Sexual Assault

Join the Syracuse Coalition Against Sexual Assault (SCASA) and the Student Association for a variety of conversations surrounding the sexual violence spectrum and healthy relationships on Monday, April 1, at the K.G. Tan Auditorium in the National Veterans Resource Center from 5-9 p.m. Conversations will be led by two powerful keynote speakers. The schedule is as follows:

  • Gentlemen… Stop Sending THAT Pic (5-6 p.m., presented by Bonny Shade)
  • A Different World… The Intersection of Identity and Sexual Violence (6:30-7:30 p.m., presented by Robbie Miller)
  • What Can I Say and Do… Responding to Women in Crisis (8-9 p.m., presented by Bonny Shade)

Students may attend as many events as they want, whether that be just one or all three!

Healing Through Clay Art Therapy With Diane Schenandoah

This month, the Barnes Center at The Arch’s Honwadiyenawa’sek (One Who Helps Them), Diane Schenandoah, will be holding two art therapy sessions using clay. Students are encouraged to use these sessions to express themselves emotionally and artistically using creative techniques. Art therapy can help students who experience anxiety, depression, and stress. Sessions will be held on Thursday, April 18, and Monday, April 29, from 5-6 p.m. at the Barnes Center at The Arch, Room 309. You can register for either (or both!) of the sessions in the Wellness Portal.

Unity in Healing: Exploring Yoga for Post-Traumatic Resiliency

Certified trauma-informed yoga practitioner Kirin Taylor and the Barnes Center at The Arch’s Susanne Rios, LMFT, will hold survivor-friendly yoga sessions on Tuesday, April 9, and Tuesday, April 16, from 4-5 p.m. in Room 309 of the Barnes Center. Learn and practice how yoga can assist during post-traumatic healing using breathing techniques and postures to unify the mind and body. Space is limited, so make sure to register as soon as possible.

Feminist Self-Defense

This self-defense class is a research-based and trauma-informed empowerment program taught by Rachel Piazza, a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and an adjunct professor of women’s and gender studies at New Jersey City University. Students will learn through interactive discussion, role-plays, boundary-setting exercises and hands-on physical self-defense instruction. However, this class is not just about fighting off an attacker. Students also learn to build healthier relationships, navigate difficult interactions with more ease and ultimately reduce their risk of sexual assault. This workshop will be held on Thursday, April 18 from 6-8 p.m. in the Flanagan Gym, and is open to all genders, ages and abilities. You can register for the class in the Wellness Portal.

Written By Madison Manczko ’24, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications