Photo by Greg French / MTSU Sidelines Archive
While Saturday’s “blackout” football game at Floyd Stadium will predominately feature one color, MTSU Athletics and other campus organizations will be making a statement against gender-based violence with small, teal ribbons.
During the game, representatives from MTSU’s Student Government Association and MTSU Athletics will be passing out teal ribbons, which is the official color for sexual assault awareness, to attendees. The act is in defiance of violence against women, and volunteers will also be passing out information regarding how to prevent violent situations.
MTSU Senior Associate Athletic Director Diane Turnham said that MTSU Athletics decided to take part in the initiative in honor of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which begins in October.
“The teal ribbon is just to make you aware that it’s the month that we recognize this issue on college campuses,” Turnham said. “… As we work with our student-athletes this year to educate them about this process, we have decided to work with the student government and other leadership groups on campus to promote awareness.”
According to statistics collected by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 23.1 percent of female undergraduate students and 5.4 percent of male undergraduate students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. The RAINN website also states that 4.2 percent of students have experienced stalking since entering college, and only 20 percent of female students, who are age 18 to 24, report incidents of sexual assault or harassment to law enforcement.
The issue is one that is prevalent on MTSU’s campus as well. Just three weeks into the fall 2018 semester, an MTSU student reported that she had been raped in a campus residence hall, and a serial stalker was arrested for harassing multiple women on campus last semester.
“We want to work to stop (sexual violence) on our campus,” Turnham said. “We developed a campaign with other student services to say it’s all about our mentality, and that starts with ‘Me.'”
Turnham said that she worked very closely with the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students to bring the campaign to life. She said that it’s important for students to be aware of issues of sexual violence so they can assist victims when needed.
“Whenever there is an issue, we want to make sure we step in and get the individuals the help or assistance that they need,” Turnham said. “So, it’s a great time at our football game to raise our students, staff and our community’s awareness to this issue.”
Abbigail Tracy, an SGA senator who will be passing out ribbons at the game, said that the event gives students a great platform to educate others about issues of sexual violence.
“It has really been a student-driven project,” Tracy said. “MTSU athletes from all sports decided to take advantage of their unique platform to spread awareness and increase knowledge of bystander intervention … SGA has volunteered to pass out ribbons at the game, and we are so thankful for that.”
Volunteers with MTSU Athletics and SGA will be passing out ribbons and information at the stadium gates from 4:30 p.m. until the scheduled 6 p.m. kickoff. Additionally, a video featuring head football coach Rick Stockstill will be played on the stadium screens before the game and at halftime and will provide information regarding the prevention of gender-based violence. The ribbon passing is sponsored by MTSU Athletics, the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, SGA and the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance.
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