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Eighty-five percent of sexual assault victims know their attacker before the assault. Only 5 percent of acquaintance rapes are reported to the police. Seventy-five percent of acquaintance rapes occur while the perpetrator and/or victim is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. And believe it or not, this all happens here at Penn. Despite this fact, the University no longer requires resident advisors and graduate associates to have mandatory workshops given by Students Together Against Acquaintance Rape and other Office of Health Education groups. In my eyes, this is foolish. Not only do we provide a free service to the University -- a service that would otherwise cost thousands if outsourced -- but it is a service that protects and teaches students with vital information about how to be safe and healthy. Since these workshops are no longer given to most freshmen, STAAR wanted to hold an event that would be an opportunity for both freshmen and upperclassmen to learn more about sexual violence. For these reasons, we are holding A Night to Speak Out -- Students Coming Together Against Sexual Violence. This will hopefully be different than anti-rape rallies that have been held at Penn in the past. STAAR's goal on this campus is to promote healthy sexual relationships and awareness of sexual violence. We have several hopes for this night. We want men to be involved. While I understand that many women feel that they need a night for themselves, a night to be angry, this doesn't accomplish much besides the alienation of half the campus. I believe that if we got as many men protesting sexual violence as women, we would begin to solve the problem. Also, it is a myth that sexual violence only affects women. Not only are men assaulted by both women and other men, but if one in four women is sexually assaulted, it is happening to men's mothers, sisters and girlfriends. This is a problem to which men are not immune. We want both survivors and others to share their feelings and experiences. Victims/survivors are not the only ones affected by sexual violence. Friends, lovers, family members, acquaintances and community members are all affected. It is a problem for all of us. We want the University to take the problem of sexual violence more seriously. Many students feel that the University has not taken issues of women's safety seriously enough. With the University in the process of selecting a new vice president for Public Safety, this is a crucial time to make the administration aware that this is an issue about which Penn students care. This is the time to speak up, or just support those who want to speak up. In a survey that STAAR conducted last year of 375 second-semester freshmen, 13 percent said they or someone they know had been raped since they had come to Penn. Even though we like to believe that Penn is not susceptible to problems such as sexual violence, it is just not true. Is that OK with you?

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