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RASA hopes to prevent sexual assaults at UM

A new student organization at the University of Mississippi is helping to prevent sexual assault on a student-to-student level.

After attending a screening of the documentary last April about sexual assault on college campuses, “The Hunting Ground,” students were asked to start a group based on peer education.

“Before I even saw the film it was an issue that I was passionate about,” said RASA President Elizabeth Romary.

The film inspired several members to get involved immediately and create Rebels Against Sexual Assault over the summer.

“They had a panel afterwards with some faculty and members of UPD. The question was asked, ‘Is there a student group for this issue?’ There wasn’t, so we decided it was time to bring a student voice to this issue,” said Romary.

Romary, 20, is a junior at Ole Miss, who said as students, the group already felt a need for more dialogue with fellow students. She wanted to get involved because she believed students are more prone to listen to other students.

“We also wanted a better way to get the resources out there,” she said. “There are resources available on campus, but not as many people know about them, so this is another way to push those forward. That was something really important as well.”

Romary said the university

had a great program for preventing violence, but RASA can deliver that information more informally to help incrementally as well as be a segue to the larger resources Ole Miss can offer their students.

“We all wanted to know what our campus had to offer for sexual assault survivors or dating violence survivors and we found out there was not anything as far as student groups go, and that was when we decided to change that,” said Sydney Green.

Green, 19, is a sophomore at Ole Miss and is the secretary of the group as well as a founding member. She said she wanted to be part of an educational program focused on preventing sexual assault and raising awareness of the issues.

In addition to spreading the news about campus resources available, RASA is also active on social media. The organization’s Tumblr account is set up where victims of dating violence or sexual assault can anonymously share their experience or how they have coped with the situation. The feature is new and has not been used yet, but it was implemented in order to create an online community of support for those who feel alone and are not willing to share their identity said Green.

The organization is helping students by giving sexual assault a definition to new students and proactively showing them how to prevent it.

“Our big thing is education,” said Romery.

RASA has participated in several campus event days where they ask students what they would do to prevent sexual assault and give suggestions on how they should act. They will have a Consent Carnival later this week.