Advocacy Group Stands Up Against Sexual Assault

Reported by Jen Wright

Among college undergraduate students, 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. This obviously puts women on college campuses at a much higher risk of sexual assault.

Two freshmen from George Fox University (GFU), Abbie Brown and Izzy Bujosa, are trying to raise awareness of this problem on campus by starting an advocacy group.

Bujosa and Brown noticed a hole in the education surrounding sexual assault and safety at GFU, and as undergraduates that have been directly affected by sexual assault, they are determined to make a change.

The new group is not an official club yet. Bujosa and Brown have big plans for the group, and the first step towards becoming an official club is securing an adviser. They are reaching out to campus pastor Jamie Noling-Auth about filling the position.

GFU requires all new students to take an hour-long online course that “helps students to better understand and develop skills around bystander intervention, consent, healthy relationships, the effects of alcohol, social norms and reporting assaults,” according to the GFU website.

But this course is not enough. Many students go through the course with minimum effort, not paying close attention to the videos, Bujosa said.

“As a Christian university, too, it’s something that we want to try and pretend doesn’t happen,” said Brown. “Especially at George Fox, with the strict rules we have, like, you don’t want sex to be a part of your identity at all. That’s something that’s really noticeable on campus, [that] it’s just something that’s hidden, and not talked about and brushed under the rug.”

They hope to raise awareness on campus, talk at high schools about sexual assault safety and even introduce a pledge of accountability to the GFU sports teams.

The pledge, started by the #SetTheExpectation campaign, includes a list of promises about sexual consent and standing up against sexual violence, to be signed by the athlete. The pledge also states that the athlete can expect a dismissal from the team if the pledge is violated.

Riley Lusk, a freshman on the GFU football team, supports both the forming of the advocacy group and the introducing of the pledge, and he is talking with his coach about it.

“I know in D-1 schools, there is an issue with it, like with guys on the football team being involved in [sexual assault],” said Lusk, “and I don’t think that would be an issue here, but I think it’s really empowering for the [women] that are trying to spread that awareness. Like, if the largest margin for the people that do it, are behind you in it, it’s got to be comforting.”

“I think the guys on the team are some of the best guys on the campus, period,” said Lusk. “And I think they’d be completely behind it.”

Supporting someone affected by sexual assault starts with believing them and not blaming them, said Lusk.

“There are stories out there of girls that are just playing victim, either to put someone away or to get attention,” said Lusk, “but it’s very rare that that occurs.”

Being aware of the issue of sexual assault is just the beginning. Supporting those around you affected by sexual assault is an important part of creating a safe and welcoming campus culture.

The group meets Sundays at 8 p.m. in the Beebe 2 lobby, and anyone is welcome to attend.