Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

The crime of sexual assault takes many forms and threatens everyone in society, yet it is a problem demanding special attention in university communities.  In addition to the high incidence of sexual assault on college campuses, students who are assaulted can find themselves interacting with their assailants because the perpetrator resides in the same dormitory or attends the same class.  In a campus environment, assaults too frequently go unreported.

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  Announcing last year’s national campaign, President Obama called sexual violence “an affront to our national conscience,” and he urged all Americans to confront and change insensitive attitudes and victim-blaming wherever they persist.

The effort to increase awareness about sexual assault, decrease its frequency, help victims, and hold students accountable who violate the Columbia University Policy Against Sexual Assault, has long been a priority at Columbia.  We want you to be aware of all of the resources available on campus.

The University’s Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center is staffed twenty-four hours a day by certified peer advocates ready to accompany survivors to hospital emergency rooms and in their interactions with law enforcement and campus security.  The Men’s Peer Education Program promotes accountability for individuals and the community.  Columbia’s Health Services also provides support to survivors of intimate partner violence, childhood sexual abuse, and stalking.  The University’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Program (SVPRP) is committed to building a respectful and safe campus by educating students about consent and coercion.  Supporting these complementary University programs is the President’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault.  Much more information is available online.

Sexual assault causes psychological and physical trauma.  Our goal is to reduce the risk of sexual assault in our community and to prevent abuse before it starts.  The Columbia events scheduled for Sexual Assault Awareness Month include film screenings, a Shabbat observance, a basketball tournament, and the annual Take Back the Night march and speak-out.

Please consider participating in Sexual Assault Awareness Month and doing your part to help prevent sexual assault.


Lee C. Bollinger