#SparkleAgainstStalking: Stalking Awareness Day

Minnesota State University is dedicated to keeping their students safe on campus. As the new spring semester progresses, students begin to focus on their academic studies and may need a refresher on the campus safety and support resources. 

January is National Stalking Awareness Month, and to spread awareness on campus safety and resources, the Violence Awareness and Response Program, also known as VARP, hosted a public awareness campaign Jan. 18 on National Stalking Awareness Day. 

The purpose of the campaign was the effort to spark a conversation about the topic of stalking and offering resources to those who are victims, or know someone who is a victim of stalking.

Freshman Rhys Riggle and sophomore Darnell Speltz partook in the campaign,helped spread awareness and informed students of its importance. 

“National Stalking Awareness Month is really important to have a voice for others who may not have one, roughly 1 in 3 women in our lifetime are stalked. Anybody could be a victim of stalking and we’re here to make that aware,” Speltz said. 

“1 in 6 men are stalked, which is what people don’t talk about is that stalking is an issue for everyone, all genders. Everyone always thinks it’s the man stalking the woman, but it could literally be anyone,” Riggle said. 

The campaign’s theme consisted of sparkles as a metaphor to spark a conversation about stalking and to find ways to spread awareness.

“The sparkles were mostly for fun. You know, sort of like, spark the conversation and it’s eye catching. People are gonna see it; stalking is something that people don’t often see,” Riggle said, “But you put glitter on something, someone is going to see it. And so this is all sort of just like catching your eye, bringing awareness and making sure that it is seen and people do experience these things.”

Stalking is seen as minimal but requires the same level of attention as any other issue that involves the lives and safety of people. Riggle explains that stalking may be invisible in the eyes of others but can still affect the life of a person and even a fellow MSU student as individuals ages from 18 to 24 experience the highest rates of stalking. 

“People are like ‘oh yeah, I would never know anyone who stalked anyone or who has been a victim of stalking and that would never happen to me’. And it’s literally statistically proven that you most likely know someone who has, is or will be a victim of stalking,” Riggle said, “People don’t think about it. We talk about things like domestic violence and sexual assault, which happened all the time, basically on a daily basis. But stalking is just as important and just as harmful as that and we don’t talk about it at all.”

Stalking requires safe precautions and Minnesota State is determined to keep students safe on campus. Riggle reveals some of the safety and support resources that MSU offers to students.

“We have some pretty good safety measures in effect; you can call Campus Security to walk you from place to place if you don’t feel safe. We have VARP where you could talk to Rachel as a confidential advocate, if you think you’re being stalked or if you have any concerns, and she won’t talk to anyone about it and she can help you find resources and ways to help with it,” Riggle said, “And you have to tell people. That’s the hardest part, is going forward and telling someone but especially on this campus, there will always be someone here for you, there will always be someone to talk to you, no matter how alone you feel. We just need to bring awareness to the state that people don’t realize, so that other people can get the help that they need.”

For more information on VARP and its support resources, visit the Women’s Center at CSU 218.

Write to Anahi Zuniga at anahi.zuniga@mnsu.edu

Header Photo: The Violence Awareness and Response Program hosted a public awareness campaign to target National Stalking Awareness Day. (Anahi Zuniga/The Reporter)

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