Two campuses address sexual assault differently

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COLUMBIA - With a name like "Slut Walk", a sexual assault awareness march is sure to raise some eyebrows. But, that was exactly the goal at Stephens College in Columbia this week.

"We weighed the options of having a ‘Take Back the Night' event or a ‘Slut Walk' and ultimately we did choose ‘Slut Walk' mostly just because of the attention grabbing name," Stephens senior Lesta NewBerry said.

NewBerry has been organizing the events for Stephens' Sexual Assault Awareness Week since Senator Claire McCaskill came to visit the MU campus to ask questions about campus assaults this past October. 

NewBerry said legislation sponsored by McCaskill, such as the Campus Safety and Accountability Act, had a profound impact on her. It motivated NewBerry to get a group of friends together to organize events for the Sexual Assault Awareness Week at Stephens.

NewBerry said social problems like sexual assault still exist and aren't talked about enough.

"This shouldn't be a taboo subject," NewBerry said. "People need to talk about it. They need to not be afraid to say that these things do exist."

Senator McCaskill is returning to MU's campus this weekend for the It's On Us summit hosted by the Missouri Students Association (MSA).

"The focus of the It's On Us summit is to bring together various student leaders to discuss campus sexual assault from a variety of viewpoints," Katie Harbinson, summit coordinator, said.

Whether it's an eye catching march or a Q&A with a state senator, members of both campuses are getting the word out in their own way.

In addition to the "Slut Walk", some Stephens students participated in the screening and discussion of "The Hunting Ground" at Missouri Theatre on Thursday, April 9.

NewBerry said there was also a session earlier this week where students could find out what sexual assault prevention resources were available on campus and meet with the school's Title IX coordinator, Dr. Lindi Overton.

Harbinson said McCaskill's legislative agenda was influential in hosting her speech on MU's campus.

"By talking about multiple sides of this issue, we can begin to enhance and better our efforts to reduce these acts of violence on college campuses," Harbinson said. "Senator McCaskill's work at our nation's capital is highly influential to these student leaders, as the Senator has not only passed crucial pieces of legislation but brought awareness to a the issue of sexual assault as a whole."

The It's On Us summit will be Saturday, April 18, at 2 p.m. in Cornell Hall. Attendees of the summit are encouraged to submit questions for the senator online before the event here.