The newest club on campus, the Sexual Assault Prevention Ambassadors (SAPA), hopes to raise awareness for sexual assault on Mississippi College’s campus, educating Choctaws on how to remain safe.
Passed through SGA two weeks ago, Nathalie Rowell founded and leads the ambassadors as president, giving them information to spread across campus.
“As a survivor of sexual assault, I knew I could use that pain in a way that either broke me down or build me up,” Rowell said. “I chose the latter and found a group of people who would help me spark change.”
Mississippi College defines sexual assault as “an offense classified as a forcible or nonforcible sex offense under the uniform crime reporting system of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, including: forcible or statutory rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, forcible fondling, and incest.”
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is the U.S.’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN estimates that 13% of all college students will experience rape or sexual assault. Undergraduate students particularly have higher cases of sexual assault compared to graduate students. RAINN estimates 27% of undergraduate females and 7% of undergraduate males will be victims of sexual assault.
Only two sexual assault incidents have been reported to the MC Office of Public Safety in the past three years, said Assistant Director of Public Safety Brent Perkins.
“Both of these occurred in residence halls,” Perkins said. “Remember that these are assaults that are actually reported to us. Over 75% of sexual assault incidents that occur on college campuses go unreported.”
This is one way SAPA wants to create a difference on campus: preventing sexual assault from occurring on campus and providing resources for survivors, especially helping survivors reporting their assault.
“We are working with organizations like SGA and Residence Life to bring about changes that would increase our students’ safety,” said SAPA’s Vice President Caroline McGuffee. “I would like SAPA to be a known resource, or stepping stone, that can provide resources to counseling, Title IX information, and the processes survivors can take.”
Rowell believes that MC students, and students on all college campuses, need to be aware that sexual assault happens often, even though discussing the topic is often considered taboo.
SAPA is currently hosting meetings via Zoom.
“We had a really good [first] turnout and expect to have roughly 20 members by the end of the fall 2020 semester,” Rowell said. “Everyone seems really excited to enact change on campus.”
For students wanting to get involved with SAPA, contact Rowell or McGuffee via email.
“Participate in any events we have, follow our social media, and help spread the word,” said McGuffee. “SAPA is an organization that any student on campus can receive helpful information from.”
Editor’s Note: MC students who have experienced sexual harassment or assault can confidentially report to Campus Security (located in B.C. Rogers), contact MC’s Title IX Coordinator Dr. Debbie Norris (firstname.lastname@example.org), or contact Jonathan Nutt (email@example.com) in the SLC. For more information on MC’s stance on sexual assault, the university’s policies, and university-offered resources, visit mc.edu/title-ix.