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UA student campaign raises awareness on campus

Posted at 9:41 PM, Jan 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-22 23:57:11-05
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- For many students at the University of Arizona, it may be uncomfortable to talk about sexual assault.
"Maybe sometimes people don't really see it," said U of A student Fabiana Estrella. "But I know I have some friends who have been part of that, and I do think there should be more awareness."
The student led and organized "I Will" campaign is hoping to raise awareness about sexual assaults and put an end to rape culture on campus.
"I think our biggest goal is just to create awareness on campus," said student organizer Tatum Hammond. "And provide tools so people have the resources and they have the education to make actual change on campus."
The week long effort will run from February 1st to 5th. Hammond says it's modeled after a similar program at the University of Michigan. There will be a resource fair at the University Mall where students can learn how to report sexual assaults. Multiple campus organizations will be participating, including the Dean of Students, Campus Health and the Women's Resource Center. 
There are also number of panels and workshops for students throughout the week.
"When we were talking about different campaigns across the nation that have been done, one of the biggest things we wanted to focus on is that we were being as inclusive as possible and that it effects everyone," Hammond said. 
As Nine On Your Side reported last November, in one semester RA's at the U of A may come across 20 to 30 students who have been assaulted. According to the University Police Department, there were 19 forcible sexual offenses on the Arizona campus, and in 2014 there were 36. Campus staff suggests that many go unreported, and the jump may mean more people are reporting the crime and are aware of school resources. 
Nick Taras is a coordinator for Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention Programming at the Women's Resource Center. Taras says they have a psychologist specifically dedicated to sexual assault survivors. 
The school is currently developing curriculum around sexual assault and violence, Taras said. That will allow students to be certified so they can educate incoming freshman and other students. They hope to start testing the curriculum this summer. 
Here is a link to where you can find a way to report sexual assault at the U of A. 
While Tatum says they know one week of awareness won't stop all sexual assaults, she says students need to talk about it.
"It is such a taboo topic on campus," Hammond said. "That's a big reason that we have the campaign because we need to start having these conversations."