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Campuses engage the problems

November 10, 2008

Coalition works to raise awareness

Inaction is one of the toughest barriers to break in fighting sexual violence. Last week, victims’ advocates from universities around Washington converged on PLU to discuss their respective programs at the Washington Sexual Violence Prevention College Coalition. They worked on how to bring knowledge about the issues to people, change people’s behaviors and instill positive attitudes that lead to the prevention of sexual violence.

“The key is feeling responsible to make that change,” said Jonathan Grove, Men Against Violence Project Coordinator at PLU.

Women have been active and organized voices on the issue of sexual violence for many years at campuses around the state. In the last few years they have had an organized ally in groups like Men against Violence.

Even if men are neither victims nor perpetrators of sexual violence, they all have a mother or sister or women in their lives they care about, said Kevin Miller, from the University of Washington’s program.

“(So) let’s all get together on this and make a difference,” he said. “We have everyday opportunities to help shift the culture.”

Changing attitudes about not being engaged in the issue is a huge step in prevention.

And small steps like wearing a T-shirt that speaks against violence or wearing a white pledge ribbon are ways to begin the conversation, Grove said.

“It’s just a really easy way to do something that really requires very little time or effort but goes a long way in making a community impact,” he said.

The coalition also worked on evaluating how well their programs worked and beginning the process of establishing data to correlate with their efforts.