UF acknowledges Sexual Assault Awareness Month with campus-wide initiatives

OC3 and Office of Equity and Title IX lead efforts to support survivors and promote safety culture at UF

By Andrea Hoffman, HoffmanA1@Findlay.edu

April for most students at the University of Findlay is a time of celebration signaling the end of school, spring sports games and nice weather. But OC3 and the Office of Equity and Title IX at UF want students to recognize April’s more serious tone as national Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).

Both groups invited students and staff throughout the month to honor survivors of sexual assault by celebrating Teal Tuesdays where students and staff could wear teal (the nationally recognized color of SAAM) to show support for survivors.

Jasmine Ridler, UF’s Deputy of Civil Rights and Title IX Coordinator, thinks April is the perfect time to highlight resources available for all students through their services with Equity and Title IX.

“They can always come visit us regardless of if their situation happened before their time at UF,” Ridler said. “We also have a webpage with our resources listed if they don’t want to come in-person to maintain their privacy.”

OC3 and the Office of Equity and Title IX held the Open Arms Wish List drive, collecting items such as paper towels and soap to be donated to Findlay’s local domestic violence shelter.

Additionally, on the Cory Street mall lawn, a survivor ribbon flag display was put up by the two groups along with the help of the men’s track and field team to represent the 433,684 individuals who are sexually assaulted in the United States every year on average according to OC3. The flags will be on display for the remainder of April.

OC3 and the Office of Equity and Title IX, say the month isn’t merely marked on calendars, it’s a hopeful call to action for students to commit to fostering safety and respect and to highlight the importance of topics like healthy relationships, sexual violence prevention, and creating a community culture based on mutual respect.

“All new students are required to attend one Title IX and policy training at the start of their first year, but we encourage students to keep attending throughout their time at UF to continue to have open dialogues and get to know what our department does,” Ridler said.

If a situation is reported to the Office of Equity and Title IX, it’s up to the complainant whether they choose to come and talk with them. Students are not required to utilize the resources set up through the department after reporting an incident but are encouraged to do so.

Skylar Mettert, UF’s Civil Rights and Title IX Coordinator wants students to be aware of what his office provides for students.

“Please know that we are here to support you, regardless of whatever has happened,” Mettert said. “Our priority is to ensure that you are safe, comfortable, and have access to support and resources.”

Ridler and Mettert understand the difficult nature of most conversations regarding the topics that fall under their policies but want students to feel comfortable speaking with them.

“I think there is still a lot of stigma surrounding reporting,” Ridler said. “We don’t want students to see us as people who are going to get them in trouble, but they see us as the resource we are.”

OC3 and the Office of Equity and Title IX also put together a “What Were You Wearing?” display of clothing submitted anonymously by survivors to challenge misconceptions and shed light on the reality of sexual violence to close out their SAAM efforts.

OC3 shared on its Instagram that they believe this exhibit along with their other efforts throughout April and the rest of the year advocate for empathy, understanding, and support for survivors of sexual assault.

Students can submit reports on an incident of prohibited conduct under UF’s Title IX Policy or UF’s Non-Discrimination Policy via its website, or by going to their office located in student affairs in Old Main.