Sexual assault is an issue many college campuses have faced. That’s why it is important to educate yourself about how to stay safe, how to defend yourself, and how to prevent assaults.
According to the National Institute of Justice’s article The Sexual Victimization of College Women, “one in five women are assaulted during her college career” and “fewer than five percent of college women who are victims report it to the police.”
Ole Miss offers many resources to educate, prevent, and defend one’s self from sexual assault. Rebels Against Sexual Assault is a relatively new organization that works to create awareness about sexual assault prevention.
By sending out peer educators to other organizations to spread awareness, distributing condoms, and sharing tips for men and women about recognizing consent, RASA is making Ole Miss more knowledgeable about these issues and creating a safer environment.
Jade Orellana, 19, is a sophomore integrated communications major from Brandon. She became involved with RASA a year ago after a student in her gender studies class, who later became the president of RASA, shared the importance of having a campus organization that highlighted sensitive issues.
“RASA offers an engagement with campus and creation of a dialogue on campuses that most people tend to not talk about,” Orellana said.
She said it’s crucial to have campus organizations that start a conversation about sexual assault because, “Its presence teaches people the proper etiquette of consent, but also gives a safe and welcoming vibe to victims.”
RASA holds many events to spread sexual assault prevention awareness, such as Sex Week and Take Back The Night. “Sex Week serves as a great open educational tool for everyone,” Orellan said. “They have events throughout the week designed to bring awareness to safe sex as well as sexual assault.”
Take Back The Night “serves as protest against injustice on campuses and allows survivors to tell their stories in person or anonymously.” This is a way for the Oxford community to rally around survivors to show their support and provide a loving and protected space.
RASA also partners with the Violence Prevention Office, a campus resource that educates faculty, staff, and students on sexual assault and acts as a medium between victims and resources.
When asked what steps could be taken to make the Ole Miss campus safer, Orellana said: “For EDHE classes, freshman should hear from survivors and peer educators to get the full effect and impact. I think that if the issue was addressed early on and mandatorily implemented, then it would be safer.”
While awareness of this issue is crucial to prevention, Orellana said: “It’s not that Ole Miss needs to change; it’s the students and their ideals.” Even though it is easy to blame UM for anything that goes awry, she said students should take initiative and hold each other accountable and safe.
Jackson native Caroline Buford, 20, who studies psychology and nursing, knows first-hand how important organizations such as RASA are to the wellbeing of students and for a societal change.
Burford, a sophomore sexual assault survivor, shared this advice: “I would like to tell fellow survivors that it is not your fault. I know it’s hard, but this event does not define you as a person.”
She encourages fellow survivors to remember: “This will be a chapter in your life, unfortunately, but I know you will make good out of this. You are strong, and I believe in you. Never, never, never give up.”
RASA meetings take place in Croft 107 every Wednesday at 6 p.m. Students can get involved and stay updated by following RASA on Facebook and their Instagram account @UMRASA.
For additional information on violence prevention and sexual assault at Ole Miss, visit: