GV focuses on awareness of sexual assault

GVL / Emily Frye
Assistant Director of the Womens Center, Brittany Dernberger

GVL / Emily Frye Assistant Director of the Women’s Center, Brittany Dernberger

Hannah Lentz

April is a time for warm weather, final exam preparation and an increased focus on awareness of sexual assault.

This year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) campaign, promoted at a national level by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center as well as Eyes Wide Open, is focusing on preventing sexual violence on campuses.

With organizations all across the nation participating in this awareness campaign, Grand Valley State University has their own way of getting the word out.

The GVSU Women’s Center held an annual program to honor the month, but it was instead held March 30 through April 3, due to the fact that attendance to these events in April proved difficult because of finals week. However, the Women’s Center and those at the university level emphasized the importance of sexual assault awareness all year.

“Everyone can play a role in preventing and ending sexual violence,” said interim Title IX Coordinator Theresa Rowland. “Increased awareness is a first step in creating a campus culture that prevents sexual violence. SAAM calls attention to the fact that sexual assault impacts every person in our community.”

During the sexual assault awareness week hosted by the Women’s Center, several events were held to inform the campus community, including a self-defense class, informational seminar and an appearance at the annual Teach-In.

“Those who have experienced sexual assault can find resources here at the Women’s Center or find resources at the University Counseling Center,” said Women’s Center Director Jessica Jennrich. “The Women’s Center staff, while not staffed with counselors, are here to help victim/survivors by providing victim advocacy services.”

Throughout the year, there are many events held that highlight sexual assault awareness. There is also a sexual assault response team on campus that looks to maximize efforts to end violence. The team, composed of Jennrich, Rowland, Brandon DeHaan, Renee Freeman, Marlene Kowalski-Braun, Bart Merkle and Pat Smith is one of the ways that GVSU looks to promote sexual assault awareness all year long.

“Sexual assault affects many people, both here at GVSU and across the country/world. The more we are aware of it and the resources we have to assist victim/survivors, the more we can work together as a community to change our culture so it is not so prevalent,” Jennrich said. “It is only with awareness of the problem that we can gather the support needed to put an end to sexual assault.”

Students are encouraged to report sexual violence to the Title IX Coordinator, Theresa Rowland at 4035 James H. Zumberge Hall or call

Resources are also listed on the GVSU website at

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