UW-Madison students met Wednesday to discuss sexual assault and awareness on college campuses and for college students. PAVE, or Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment, met to listen to stories and discuss issues facing those who have been molested or sexually assaulted.
UW senior Angela Bartucci, PAVE founder, said sexual-assault awareness is important on college campuses.
“A survivor who does not tell anyone is much worse off in the long run,” Bartucci said.
The meeting focused on legislation being considered by the General Assembly and the Senate. A bill to put alcohol back on a list of potential date-rape drugs has been sponsored by several Assembly members in both parties.
PAVE students said they want Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, to co-sponsor the bill.
Austin King, a UW-Madison junior, said he hoped Pocan would co-sponsor the bill.
“It would certainly be sad if an issue as important to his constituents [as this is] was not actively supported by
Representative Pocan,” King said.
The bill has already been supported by Reps. Terese Berceau, D-Madison, Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee, Terry Musser, R-Black River Falls and Sheldon Wasserman, D-Milwaukee in the Assembly. State Sen. Brian Burke, D-Milwaukee, and Senate President Fred Risser, D-Madison, have also sponsored the bill.
Bartucci stressed the importance of passing the legislation.
“Alcohol is the most commonly used drug on campus,” she said.
Students also honored UW alum Jenny Spector, who was a victim of a rape five years ago.
Spector explained that on a trip to New York with a friend, she went to a bar. After a few drinks, she met a guy. When they went back to her friend’s apartment, she was raped on the bathroom floor. Spector did not tell her friends and relatives, and this lack of communication cost her any chance to stop the man who assaulted her.
“I did the three things that you are not supposed to do,” she said. “I cleaned up, I destroyed any evidence on my body and I told no one.”
Students also pondered the argument of responsibility. Bartucci pointed out a case at UW-Eau Claire last month, when an unconscious female student was raped on the dance floor by an Eau Claire tavern owner. The owner admitted to having sex with the girl, and also writing explicit statements on her body with permanent marker. He has been charged with second-degree sexual assault, but will fight the charge because he believes he did nothing wrong.
UW students were upset at the lack of outrage by people at Eau Claire. They felt there should be more emphasis on the actual rape, and not on who was responsible.
“Should we e-mail the school newspaper to wonder why the story was not important?” UW senior Jill Smith asked.
Students also discussed why men might prey on women. Many students pointed out men may target women who are drinking. Several students wondered what precautions women should take when drinking at bars.
Bartucci also explained that a new group, Court Watch, will evaluate court cases involving sexual assault. Students will be trained to understand and report violations of rights that may occur against women who testify against their attackers.
Senior citizens will also play an important role, Bartucci said.
“Senior citizens will also help us in this effort,” she said. “They are an important part of our society and they also have untold knowledge.”
Spector said she hopes this is a good beginning for PAVE.
“We need to know that our families need to be aware,” she said. “And then, we can help all of our children through their experiences.”