April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April 17, 2013

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

Though sexual violence is a problem affecting everyone in society, it demands special attention in university communities, where survivors too often suffer in silence rather than report incidents involving fellow students with whom they may share a residence or a class.

April is national Sexual Assault Awareness Month, an occasion for us to come together to raise awareness about sexual violence and to take steps to prevent it.  Tomorrow night, members of the Columbia community will gather for the annual Take Back the Night march to speak out against this violence, express support for survivors, and encourage open and honest conversation about this critical issue.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month is an opportunity to remind everyone in our community about the wide ranging resources available on campus through the university’s Sexual Violence Response program, supported by my President’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault.  Much more information is available online.   These resources include:

  • The Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center(RC/AVSC), providing education, training, peer-to-peer support, and 24-hour-a-day advocacy to students.  At the Support Center, certified Peer Advocates assist survivors and co-survivors of sexual violence, intimate partner violence, childhood sexual abuse, stalking, and gender-based harassment.  All services are free and confidential.  For further information, please visit the website.
  • The Men’s Peer Education Program(MPE), which engages men as allies in ending sexual and relationship violence by challenging beliefs and behaviors that encourage this violence.  For more information, please visit the website.

Students, faculty, and administrators who wish to learn more about our Gender-Based Misconduct Policies or submit a report alleging misconduct can gain additional information from Columbia’s Student Services for Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct.

In his annual proclamation establishing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, President Obama called sexual violence “an affront to human dignity and a crime no matter where it occurs.”  This basic truth is the reason that Columbia has made it a priority to reduce the risk of sexual assault in our community and to prevent abuse before it starts.  I urge you to participate in tomorrow’s Take Back the Night march and to support this effort throughout the year.


Lee C. Bollinger