AWS empowers victims of sexual assault during walk

Zoe Sissac, Opinion Editor

The Ambitious Women Society hosted its third annual Walk Against Sexual Assault Tuesday to commemorate the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Students and faculty marched from Scott Plaza to the Grove holding signs with sexual assault statistics and shouting phrases such as “No means No.” 

“We walked today in support of sexual assault victims and in support of ‘No means No’,” JaKasia Johnson, a senior health studies major and an AWS officer, said. The No Means No campaign was developed on college campuses over 20 years ago, according to Western Health. 

After walking almost two miles, students arrived at the Grove and heard from three guest speakers. Each speaker works directly with ULM year-round to keep students informed about sexual assault. 

Detective Sean Reddick serves with the Monroe Police Department, investigating reports of sexual harassment and assault. He brought awareness to the growing number of sexual assault cases in Monroe around ULM’s campus. Currently, Monroe PD is working on 20 active sexual assault cases. The Rape, Abuse and Incest Network reported that “26.4% of females and 6.8% of males have been sexually assaulted as undergraduates on a college campus.”

Pamela Jackson oversees the Title IX Office at ULM. The Title IX Office allows students to report sexual assault or harassment without facing judgment or backlash. Then, the office addresses these complaints to help students feel safe on campus. Jackson discussed the role of the Title IX program on ULM’s campus and the importance of knowing how to report sexual assault cases. She stated that the office will be holding more events throughout the year so students can learn more about Title IX. She said only 12% of victims reported their attack to the campus or local police department. 

Melanie Clark works at The Wellspring, coordinating their Sexual Assault Program. The Wellspring provides counseling and medical care to people who have been sexually assaulted. Clark promoted the different programs at The Wellspring, advocating for students to focus on their mental health. Banyan Mental Health Center states that “80% of women who have been sexually assaulted developed one mental health disorder, and 55% had at least two mental health disorders.” 

“I hope that students learn that not only women could be assaulted but also men,” AWS President Niya Fulgence said. “It is important to report it, whether it happened five days ago or months ago.”

Events like the AWS Walk Against Sexual Assault hope to change those statistics. 

 “My favorite thing about this event is seeing the people who come out because it shows that you’re not really alone,” senior health studies major Elise Stevens said. “You always have somebody even when you feel like you don’t have anything.”