Students and faculty at Minnesota State University, Mankato prepared themselves for the annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April that will be hosted by the Violence Awareness and Response Program located in the Centennial Student Union.
This year, VARP has created a special committee for this important time called the Sexual Assault Awareness Month Planning Committee. Leading this new committee is none other than Hunter Beckstrom, a graduate assistant at VARP. When asked why Beckstrom chose to organize this committee, he said, “With me being a white straight dude in this role, it would really take away from a lot of the feminist activism roots of Take Back the Night. That’s why I wanted as many students as possible to get as many voices and identities involved as possible.”
Take Back the Night is an annual event put on by VARP each year during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. “During the mid-1970s is when it started within the northeast coast. It was an event to speak out in response to violence against women in general,” said Beckstrom. “It started with a march where people would get together saying chants like, “Stop the Silence, End the Violence.”
“Activism in general is how Take Back the Night started and I wanted to re-enact that to get as many students from different programs involved. As many people as possible,” said Beckstrom.
Meetings have not started yet for this committee. More information on how to join can be found through posted flyers on campus with emails posted for both Beckstrom, and Laura Schultz, the director of the Violence Awareness and Response Program. Other ways to get more information on the Sexual Assault Awareness Month Planning Committee is to stop by the Women’s Center, located in CSU 218. They also have a Facebook group called SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month) Planning Committee that people can join.