As a part of the the Big Sky Conference initiative to raise awareness about sexual violence, SUU’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) organized a week of education and awareness on sexual violence prevention at SUU from Feb. 27 to March 3.
The week began on Tuesday with a talk from sexual assault survivor Brenda Tracy in the America First Event Center (AFEC). Members of SUU Athletics, student athletes and students were in attendance to hear Tracy talk about her assault and how she has persevered in the decades afterwards.
SAAC advisor Chanel Barnes echoed Tracy’s message that a lot of the time athletes can be the problem, but they can also be the solution. Barnes said that since student athletes are often placed on a pedestal on college campuses, they can be an example to the rest of the community.
“If we want to see change a lot of that change, not entirely, but a lot of that change can come from the student athletes,” Barnes said. “So to get that message across on how prevalent it is and what an issue it is, college athletics is a great place to start.”
SUU women’s basketball made their game Wednesday night teal themed, since a teal ribbon represents sexual violence awareness. A pledge booth was placed at the entrance to the AFEC, where game attendees could sign forms pledging to personally advocate against sexual assault and domestic violence.
The Lady T-Birds donned white shirts with ‘No More’ and ‘Stand Up’ written on them in teal and wore teal headbands and teal socks. Cheerleaders wore teal bows in their hair for the event. During halftime, buckets were carried around the audience to collect spare change, with all proceeds going to Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center (CCWCC). Pledges and donations were also gathered during the women’s basketball game on Friday.
A Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event was held on Thursday by the SAAC. Participants carried signs and walked around campus, starting and ending at the library. Another pledge booth was available before and after the walk in front of the library.
On Saturday SUU gymnastics held a teal meet. The Flippin’ Birds wore shirts identical to those worn by the Lady T-Birds earlier in the week, and also wore teal bows in their hair. A pledge booth was available before the meet, and buckets were again passed around in the crowd to raise money for CCWCC.
Athletic Director Debbie Corum said she was proud of the SAAC for their work during the week, and for tackling the tough issue of sexual violence.
“Although the topic is hard to discuss, we have learned that it was a great opportunity to open dialogue for not only our student athletes, but our entire campus and community,” Corum said.
Barnes said the SAAC committee had done an incredible job during the week. “Just trying to raise that awareness and to have it be something that’s talked about, so it’s not this hidden, under the rug discussion, but something that we should all be talking about,” Barnes said.