Sexual violence PSA calls for dialogue, responsibility

In response to recent events across college campuses – including our own – Silence the Silence, a public service announcement (PSA) on sexual violence, is scheduled to air Thursday at the Canes Consent event, an event dedicated to raising awareness about sexual violence.

The minute-long PSA asks students to challenge themselves to end the sexual violence epidemic in our nation. It calls for students to take personal responsibility by standing up against sexual violence to their friends and taking a vow not to participate in any act of sexual violence.

“It asks viewers to examine their own actions and how those actions can stop sexual assaults from happening,” said Nick Swyter, the director of the PSA. “It is my hope that this examination can steer viewers toward a dialogue that confronts the structural issues of this topic.”

Julie Earl, co-chair of Silence the Silence, said Student Government was asked on behalf of the President’s Campus Coalition on Sexual Violence Prevention and Education, created by President Donna Shalala in May, to produce the PSA as a launch for a long-term initiative to end to sexual violence on college campuses.

“Right now we don’t have a serious problem, but we want to be proactive so that if there is a problem we know what to do,” said Renee Perez, co-chair of Silence the Silence.

According to the University of Miami Police Department, police records do not have a significant number of reports of sexual violence, but it is unknown if this is an accurate description of the campus activity.

“As of now, on the last open report the numbers were in the single digits,” Earl said. “But you always have to ask yourself: Is it because no one’s reporting or is it because it’s not happening?”

The PSA also aims to make it easier for people to talk about the issue. Earl believes the PSA and continuance of projects to end sexual assault will offer a safe space for victims to talk about it without any judgment or awkwardness.

“It’s important to provide or create a culture where people can feel comfortable talking about it and to have students understand how to respond to that,” she said.

The Canes Consent event will be held from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at the Rock. There will be free T-shirts and palm cards distributed at the event to help students quickly find the resources they need depending on what action they want to take, including making a report or seeking counseling.