Upcoming Culture of Care Week to raise awareness about sexual assault prevention

In collaboration with Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, IU student leaders involved in Culture of Care are once again hosting Culture of Care Week April 4-8. The week of events raises awareness and educates students on mental health, sexual well-being, respect and drug and alcohol awareness, and to helps students understand the importance of engaging as active bystanders.

Culture of Care

Students participate in previous Culture of Care events.

“Sexual Assault Awareness Month gives us an opportunity to come together and raise awareness about the important issue of sexual violence on campus and in our community,” said Leslie Fasone, assistant dean of students for women’s and gender affairs. “We have very active and involved student organizations who are helping to lead our efforts by hosting events on campus that are providing students with educational information and raising awareness about consent, sexual violence and how to step up to prevent sexual violence.”

Throughout Culture of Care week and the month of April, student, campus and community organizations will have tables across campus to provide students with more information on these topics and resources available on campus and in the community. Groups will also host special events such as movie screenings, guest speakers and a coffee crawl.

This is the fifth year IU students have hosted Culture of Care Week, and participation and interest by students in Culture of Care as well as student organizations focused on prevention and safety at IU continues to grow, Fasone said.

“I am continually impressed by the involvement and leadership of students who are involved in creating a campus free from sexual violence,” Fasone said. “We have hundreds of students involved in organizations, attending events and spreading the message of the importance of stepping up, caring and creating a safe, healthy and flourishing IU community. We recognize that that these students are key for helping to change the campus culture.”

IU junior Dani Castonzo is one of the students involved in Culture of Care week. The informatics and journalism major, who is the sexual-wellbeing chair for Culture of Care, got involved with sexual assault awareness efforts after meeting classmates who had been victims of sexual assault.

“It’s so important to ask for consent every step of the way, to not shame or blame survivors of sexual assault, and to call out problematic statements and look out for ways you can intervene,” she said. “I’m extremely passionate about sexual assault prevention, and I know that addressing the issue head-on and teaching consent and bystander intervention can make a difference. By educating about consent and talking honestly about the issues this campus has, I really believe we can decrease the number of sexual assaults on this campus.”

Bill Phan, director of involvement for Culture of Care and former director of IU student organization Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault, has also made it his mission to help spread awareness about sexual assault prevention.

Over a year ago, then junior Phan was approached by a friend who said she had been sexually assaulted and needed some guidance and advice. Not knowing the best way to respond, Phan came to the realization that he needed more education on the ways to help sexual assault survivors.

That semester, he decided to join MARS, a group of over 100 fraternity men who devote their time to educating other male students on the issues of rape and sexual assault.

“I joined MARS to educate other men on the growing issue of sexual assault,” Phan said. “Men need to understand what a positive relationship looks like and how it’s their duty to create a culture of care and respect on this campus and everywhere.”

During Culture of Care week and throughout April, MARS and other student groups on campus will be hosting a number of events, including a campus-wide tabling event on April 5 during which students will be given potential scenarios and asked to choose the safest course of action.

The group, alongside the sorority group Safe Sisters, will also host the BannerUp Campaign. Similar to last semester’s event, the campaign will feature large, red banners hung outside of fraternities and sororities throughout campus. Each banner will display a message such as “Real Hoosier Men Should Respect Women” and “Join MARS for a Safer IU” in an effort to raise awareness about sexual assault.

“If we are able to make people aware of this issue, then a discussion can begin and solutions can be formed,” Phan said. “Eventually, our hope is that these discussions will lead to action.”

Information about Culture of Care week events is available on Culture of Care’s Facebook page. Culture of Care will also be using the hashtag “#CouragetoCare” throughout the week.

Information and resources on sexual assault and bystander intervention are available to students and staff throughout the year. Students can request bystander intervention programming by emailing stepupiu@indiana.edu.

More information about sexual misconduct and sexual violence, including campus resources and prevention efforts, is available at stopsexualviolence.iu.edu. The site will also include upcoming Culture of Care week events.

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