SART raising awareness of sexual assault on college campuses

Ashley Jones

The Georgia Southern University Sexual Assault Response Team is working to educate students about sexual assault on college campuses around the U.S.

According to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network’s website, 11.2 percent of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation.

Anytime a sexual crime is committed, the victim should seek immediate medical attention following the assault. The GS response team is educating students across the U.S. on the topic.

Sexual Assault Response Team

SART is an on-campus team that focuses on sexual assault awareness at GS and in the Statesboro area. The group works with other sexual assault organizations within the city, including the Teal House.

The center also works with different groups on campus that educate students about sexual assault and offer resources to victims. These resources include The Counseling Center, Health Services, Equal Opportunity & Title IX and the Office of Student Activities.

SART uses activities such as Sex Signals, Sexual Assault Awareness Week, the clothesline project, Take Back the Night, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes and the Rape Aggression Defense System to educate the community on sexual assault and its effects. In 2007, SART founded The Georgia College Sexual Assault Association Network. In 2008, the team received the Gold Excellence Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

The Beginning

SART was established in 1997 and was the first group of its kind on any college campus in the U.S.

“Our mission is focused on reducing the incidences of sexual violence through primary prevention programming and to ensure a most consistent response to victims of sexual violence in the widest range possible,” Jodi Caldwell, co-chair of SART, said.

Before SART began, GS did not have the necessary resources a sexual assault victim would need following an incident. At most universities, the issue of sexual violence was rarely addressed, if addressed at all.

“Before 1997, sexual violence, we knew it occurred on university campuses, but it was primarily seen as a mental health issue,” Caldwell said.

According to Caldwell, the GS SART spent its early years mentoring universities around the country on how to establish their own response teams.

Membership

Members of the GS chapter include faculty and staff of the university. Anyone interested in becoming a member of the SART, or anyone wanting to request a presentation, should contact Jodi Caldwell at [email protected]

Ashley Jones, The George-Anne Opinions Writer/Daily Reporter, [email protected]