Seattle U Raises Awareness and Funds for Sexual Assault Awareness Month


“The absence of no does not mean yes” clothesline project / Adeline Ong

1 in 5 women and 24.8% of men in the U.S. experience rape or attempted rape during their lifetime. As a grossly under-reported phenomena, Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) serves as a way to start conversations around the topic of sexual violence. 

SAAM is observed each April by Seattle University, and this year there are a series of events—including off-campus fundraisers—being hosted by the Wellness and Health Promotion office and its associated student group, the Health and Wellness Crew (HAWC). 

Sarah Gordon, a graduate student at Seattle U,  helped organize the events for SAAM. This year, SAAM has events surrounding sexual assault that are supportive, educational and for all identities. One event is the Identity, Power and Sexual Violence Workshop happening on April 25. 

“[This event] offers the opportunity to talk about how our unique identities play a role in sexual violence on college campuses,” Gordon said. 

Fundraisers in partnership with four Capitol Hill restaurants for King County’s Sexual Assault Resource Center are another way for students to get involved. Restaurants participating include Drip Tea on April 21, MOD Pizza on April 25, General Porpoise on April 29 and Chipotle on May 2. 

“It’s really nice that Seattle U has organizations that care about issues that are big in the community,” Lena Phan, one of the co-owners of Drip Tea, said.“We’re really excited. This is a lot different than other events we’ve done [in partnership with Seattle U], usually it’s just a club. SAAM is really different and we are excited to see the turnout for the event.” 

Drip Tea has promised to donate 50% of all their profits April 21 to King County’s Sexual Assault Resource Center, which offers education to the community, the victims and the families. It also offers financial support—especially as individuals start going through the legal system. 

“They also offer one of the coolest things, which is called a victim’s advocate. So as you go through the legal system it can be very re-traumatizing, it can be really triggering. So to have a victim’s advocate there as their defense, to be there for support, can be really impactful for someone,” Gordon said. 

Seattle U provides an array of on-campus resources that can be accessed by students and faculty alike. The Dean of Students office lists an array of resources concerning sexual misconduct on their website.

“SAAM is very important, but I think its even more important that the university has made it a pretty safe place for victims of sexual assault or allies, especially in a really urban campus, to have resources. And I think that the university has done a really, really good job over the years of increasing access to resources,” Kelli Rodriguez Currie, a professor in Seattle U’s law school, said. 

When turning to staff and faculty about sexual assault, being aware of who is a mandatory reporter  is important for students to know. Rodriguez Currie said that she always makes sure students are aware so that nothing is disclosed that they would feel uncomfortable being reported. 

Sexual assault is still under-reported on college campuses, with only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults being reported to the police. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) reported that 77% of campuses recorded zero incidents of sexual assault, which they argue speaks more to the insufficiency of reporting structures rather than the frequency of its occurrence on campuses. 

“Sometimes faculty and staff need to pause and get clear for ourselves if we need to [report]. Just because I don’t ever want to put a student in a position where if they disclose something that I have to report, if they are not comfortable with me reporting.”

If students do want to go the route of reporting misconduct, Seattle U’s Title IX Office is available to use. If they don’t feel comfortable reporting the incident there, they could turn to Campus Ministry or Wellness and Health Services. 

For more ways to participate in this year’s SAAM, check out the “Observing Sexual Assault Awareness Month” page published by Seattle U.