Students joined together to stand up against sexual abuse on Fort Hays State University’s Memorial Union patio Wednesday.
FHSU’s Women’s Leadership Project hosted the event, called RAINN Day, to provide students with education, stories, statistics and the opportunity to pledge against rape and abuse.
“We have several events throughout the year, and RAINN Day is one of them,” said Kaiti Dinges, FHSU senior and student coordinator of Women’s Leadership Project. “We also do the Red Flag Campaign through the month of October, which brings awareness to domestic violence and sexual assault, especially on college campuses.”
Women’s Leadership Project, which is housed in the Center for Civic Leadership, is specifically designed to educate, inspire and empower women to be leaders of tomorrow.
Facing these realistic issues head-on is a vitally important part of that empowerment, according to Dinges.
This is the university’s third year hosting RAINN Day, which stems from the support of a larger organization.
“RAINN stands for Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network,” Dinges said. The network is the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization.
As students passed by the patio area, they couldn’t help but notice a table filled with informational pamphlets, handouts stating the probability of rape, and the audio of student’s personal encounter with sexual abuse.
“Sexual assault is huge on college campuses,” said Lauren Wiebe, an FHSU senior. “I think it’s really important for everyone to be safe and that everyone understands it’s their obligation to protect others on campus.”
Wiebe, alongside many fellow students, pledged by signing her name on a paper raindrop she hung on a large poster to be displayed on campus. The poster said, “Wash rape away,” and for every raindrop hung, a piece of the word “rape” was taken away.
“The students take a piece of candy from the poster and replace it with their raindrop,” Dinges said. “They’re essentially taking rape away and placing their raindrop to wash it away.”
FHSU freshman Arianna Manzano said she hoped the public display would instill realization in others.
“For people who have thought about doing this, hopefully it opens their eyes so they won’t,” she said. “It’s also good for victims so they know there are people here for them and they’re not alone.”
Dinges said one out of three sexual assault victims are first-year college students.
“That’s a huge number when you think about how many students attend college,” she said. “I think events like this educate students about the reality of these things, and it can help them in situations that may occur.”