VARP raises awareness for sexual assault

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, during which the Violence Awareness and Response Program along with the Women’s Center will host many events related to the topic.

Rachel Maccabee, the director of VARP, said dedicating a month to recognizing sexual assault allows people to pause and focus on related topics. The events hosted by VARP are aimed at educating students on how to recognize, talk about and respond to sexual assault.

“While most of us, if not all of us, are aware that sexual assault exists, we don’t always know how to talk about it,” said Maccabee. “We don’t always know how to respond to someone who is telling us about it and we don’t know how to talk about it to get the help we need.”

The VARP office helps students not only in learning about sexual assault and response but also serves as a resource and help that a student may seek. VARP offers confidential advocacy, helps respond to a traumatic event and helps practice consent to prevent violence in the community. 

As part of the month’s program, VARP hosts three writing workshops where students learn techniques for sharing their stories.

“We’ll be having trauma-informed writing workshops,” said Maccabee. “People can choose to share their stories at the Take Back the Night [event] or not. They can ask someone else to read them, or they can just share them in the writing group, share them with their therapist or their friends or keep them for themselves.”

The next event in the series for April is “Stalking Awareness: Know it. Name it. Stop it,” which will educate students on recognizing stalking behavior, and finding help and resources to properly respond to possible threats.

Last year, there were 37 victims of intimate partner homicide in Minnesota, which VARP will recognize at the “Mavericks: It’s on Us” event. In addition to that, students will find the resources they need tabling throughout the event. Refreshments and giveaways will be offered to attendees. 

“This event is an invitation to recognize that ending sexual violence in our community takes all of us. We all have a role to play. Even if you are someone who doesn’t think sexual violence will ever intercede or intersect with your life,” said Maccabee. “We will have an interactive memorial to the 37 victims in Minnesota of intimate partner homicide. We’re going to invite people to interact with the memorial and place flowers.” 

Denim Day, Take Back the Night and Clothesline events will take place later in the month. All students are invited to visit the events and acknowledge the traumatic consequences of sexual assault.

VARP is a resource that any student can reach out to. They advocate for people of any gender and connect students with other resources. For more information on the events reach out to

Write to Amalia Sharaf at

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