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UMass women’s track and field takes first, men fourth at Joe Donahue Games -

January 20, 2018

Sanzo: UMass’ game vs. St. Louis is a sign of what it is without its grit -

January 20, 2018

UMass men’s basketball gets blown out by Saint Louis, 66-47 -

January 20, 2018

UMass hockey shuts down No. 8 Northeastern with 3-0 win -

January 19, 2018

Matt Murray hands Northeastern its first shutout of the season -

January 19, 2018

Minutewomen stunned by last-second free throw -

January 19, 2018

UMass hockey returns home to battle juggernaut Northeastern squad -

January 18, 2018

Slow start sinks Minutemen against URI -

January 17, 2018

UMass three-game win streak snapped in Rhode Island humbling -

January 17, 2018

Trio of second period goals leads Maine to 3-1 win over UMass hockey -

January 16, 2018

Small-ball lineup sparks UMass men’s basketball comeback over Saint Joseph’s -

January 14, 2018

UMass men’s basketball tops St. Joe’s in wild comeback -

January 14, 2018

UMass women’s track and field have record day at Beantown Challenge -

January 14, 2018

UMass women’s basketball blows halftime lead to Saint Joseph’s, fall to the Hawks 84-79. -

January 14, 2018

UMass hockey beats Vermont 6-3 in courageous win -

January 13, 2018

Makar, Leonard score but UMass can only muster 2-2 tie with Vermont -

January 13, 2018

Pipkins breaks UMass single game scoring record in comeback win over La Salle -

January 10, 2018

Conservative student activism group sues UMass over free speech policy -

January 10, 2018

Report: Makar declines invite from Team Canada Olympic team -

January 10, 2018

Prince Hall flood over winter break -

January 10, 2018

District Attorney’s Office debuts sexual assault prevention campaign

Calling for an end to sexual assaults on campus, officials from the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office on Friday premiered a series of three public service announcements aimed at raising awareness of the issue.

The 30-second videos, which feature local students, were shown during the Campaign to End Sexual Assault on Campuses conference at Hampshire College. The PSAs are part of a new media campaign by the District Attorney’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit.

“(Sexual assault) is an epidemic in our colleges and communities,” Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan said during opening remarks at the conference. Sullivan stressed the importance of creating a cultural change in which sexual violence is no longer accepted on college campuses.

“I demand that we end it by 2020,” he said.

Nearly 50 students, experts and officials from the Five Colleges and Greenfield Community College attended the conference. Also unveiled at the conference was a series of posters featuring the campaign’s bright yellow logo and theme – “Consent: The difference between sex & rape” – as well as a QR code that when scanned by a smartphone brings up a website with links to different resources. One of the posters reads: “If you see the potential for sexual assault, don’t be a passive bystander. Do something.”

Buttons with the message, “I ask. Do you?” were also handed out at the event.

The goal of the campaign is to stress self-empowerment and consent, while also encouraging victims to come forward.

According to Sullivan, 75 percent of sexual assaults on college campuses involve drugs and alcohol. The new PSAs present different ways of dealing with unwanted sexual advances in party situations in which alcohol may be a factor.

One video shows a woman asserting herself after being groped by a man she was dancing with. Another shows a student being an active bystander and diverting attention after witnessing a friend make an unwanted advance on a woman. “Disrupt. Distract. Redirect.” was the ad’s message. And the third video was aimed at what men can say to other men to prevent sexual assaults from occurring. It shows a male confronting his friends after hearing them make rude comments to women at a party.

Mary Kociela, director of domestic violence programs for the district attorney’s office, was largely responsible for putting the campaign together. Kociela said that she wanted the campaign’s message to resonate with young adults, so input from a student committee was an important part of the process.

After screening the PSAs, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Suhl spoke about how rape and sexual assault are legally defined. According to Suhl, there is no clear definition of consent. It is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and becomes an especially “gray area” when alcohol is involved.

Advocates from the Center for Women and Community at the University of Massachusetts also led workshops on defining consent and bystander intervention at the conference. Participants came to the conclusion that in general consent can be defined as an “enthusiastic, comfortable ‘yes’” that can be revoked at any time.

Toward the end of the event, participants broke into small groups to discuss how to best spreading awareness of the campaign across local college campuses.  This includes distributing the PSAs, which are currently available on YouTube and the district attorney’s website, as well as posters, buttons and other promotional material.

“None of us have done enough to change the culture,” said Hampshire College President Jonathan Lash. “I think we need to strive to create a culture of respect, consent and mutual responsibility.

“I hope that this is the beginning of a process that will become viral and set the standard,” he added.

Aviva Luttrell can be reached at aluttrel@sudent.umass.edu

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