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Events raise awareness of sexual assault

Sexual Assault Awareness 2014
Students on the Oconee Campus decorate shirts that will be hung on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of violence against women.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) is raising awareness of the issue of sexual assault by hosting campus events, including a Sept. 25 Take Back the Night vigil, and launching a website on sexual assault and violence education (SAVE).

According to the 2007 campus sexual assault study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, 1 in 5 women is likely to be a victim of sexual assault or attempted assault during her time in college.  Women face the highest risk of sexual assault during the time period between the first day of college and the first school break, according to the study.

UNG is educating the campus community about sexual assault and seeking to prevent violence through various means, including the new website, www.ung.edu/save, intended to provide assistance to victims and reporters of sexual violence and misconduct. UNG will continue awareness efforts by recognizing Sexual Assault and Violence Education Week on September 22-26. A Take Back the Night vigil will be held Thursday, Sept. 25 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. on the Gen. William "Lipp" Livsey Drill Field on the Dahlonega Campus.

Earlier in September, UNG's Gainesville, Oconee and Dahlonega campuses welcomed Katie Koestner, a national speaker and advocate for sexual assault awareness who is the executive director of the Take Back the Night foundation, a non-profit organization with the mission of ending sexual violence in all forms.

Koestner's speaking career began at age 18, shortly after she was a victim of sexual assault experience. Koestner was featured on the cover of Time Magazine as one of the first women to speak out about date-rape.

In addition to delivering her keynote address to large crowds on three of UNG's four campuses, Koestner facilitated training sessions with university Title IX representatives, student conduct hearing officers and committee members, and student leaders who serve in the role of mandatory reporters.

"The event and The Clothesline Project gave the Oconee students an opportunity to be engaged, and started really important conversations about sexual assault and relationship violence," said Barbara Arnold, associate director of student counseling.

The Clothesline Project is a worldwide program founded in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in 1990 to address the issue of violence against women. It is a vehicle for women affected by violence to express their emotions by decorating a shirt. They hang the shirt on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of violence against women.

The events, which were attended by hundreds of UNG faculty, staff and students, were sponsored by the deans of students, Commandant's Office, Residence Life, Student Involvement, Nighthawks Entertainment, and Peer Health Educators.

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