WGAC, City of Fort Collins, use campaigns to tackle sexual assault

Megan Fischer

Together, Colorado State University and the City of Fort Collins are working to counter attitudes that can lead to sexual assault and to create an environment based on inclusive language.

After the city became the first city to participate in national campaign It’s On Us in late Aug. 2015, CSU launched REFRAME in Sept. 2015, an on-campus campaign to address issues of sexual assault and inappropriate language on campus.

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Monica Rivera, interim director of the CSU Women and Gender Advocacy Center, said Fort Collins’ participation in the It’s on Us campaign is what prompted the release of REFRAME. Otherwise, it would have been released later.

“It’s On Us talks about the fact that it’s on us to reduce violence, so we agree with that,” Rivera said. “Reframe is a skill-building campaign. It’s not just an awareness campaign. There are a lot of campaigns nationally that talk about different ways to reduce violence, but they’re very singular in nature, so we wanted to create a campaign that’s comprehensive in terms of having risk reduction, bystander and primary prevention pieces to it.”

The current website features 10 “reframes,” but the program aims to create additional reframes as the campaign and randomize them for students.

“Right now we are just educating on the first 10 core reframes,” Rivera said.

With the campaign, the WGAC is hoping to feature one or two reframes a semester, Rivera said. Over the next semester, the office will be creating a new video on the “Believe. Don’t Blame.” reframe, and it will have a place within Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. The office will also feature reframes around Valentines Day in February.

Rivera talked about the use of language around campus and how it can influence sexual assault.

“We average about seven walk-ins a week (from survivors),” Rivera said. “For the most part, a lot of the support we give to survivors is processing all of the fall out, and that’s usually people’s reactions, and a lot of it is around language. It’s about using victim affirming or survivor affirming language.”

According to Rivera, it is important to shift the culture of campus and the language used on campus. Music and movies influence the culture in what people see and watch, but they should create dialogue and conversations about appropriate behavior.

“I may not be able to control the script of Star Wars,” Rivera said. “We can control the script of CSU.”

Collegian Reporter Megan Fischer can be reached at news@collegian.com or via Twitter @MegFischer04.

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