At Grand Valley State University, there are many events held to talk about difficult issues, such as politics and religious differences. But one of the most difficult situations to speak up about is sexual assault, especially if you are a victim.

By now, hopefully many of you are aware that one in four women are sexually assaulted by the time they graduate college. According to a national study done by the Medical University of South Carolina, in one year 300,000 college women – over 5 percent of women enrolled in colleges and universities in the United States – experience rape. This statistic does not include other forms of sexual assault.

Women are not the only victims though. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control did a study of 5,000 college students at over 100 colleges; 4 percent of men answered “yes” to the question, “In your lifetime have you been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against your will?”

Not only are hundreds of thousands of people being victimized each year, many are also blamed for what happened to them. Alcohol consumption and even how a person dresses have been used to place blame on victims, when instead the attention should be on the perpetrator.

At Grand Valley State University, the event Take Bake the Night helps victims share their stories and empowers them to speak out against perpetrators. We at the Lanthorn respect the courage it must take to share these stories. We also appreciate the efforts of the event’s organizers, the student organization Eyes Wide Open, to create an open environment for these stories to be shared.

In addition, there are resources offered to help GVSU students, staff and faculty who are victims of sexual assault. The Women’s Center offers support for victims and survivors of sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, stalking and sexual harassment. The center has a Violence Against Women Act Grant and a Sexual Assault Advocate, Theresa Rowland, who is available to talk with victims and survivors.

The event is one of several opportunities students have to connect with each other and talk about sexual assault. It is a valuable opportunity for both victims and those who want to be more educated on the subject. Many students know someone who has been a victim of sexual assault, whether they know it or not, which makes it important for them to be able to support victims if or when they decide to talk.