Two guest speakers from the Northwest Arkansas Center for Sexual Assault spoke to students Feb. 11 about sexual assault and harassment, gearing the discussion toward encouraging men to hold other men accountable.

The University of Arkansas Police Department received 9 reports of rape in 2019 and 3 reports of sexual assault, according the the UAPD Daily Crime Log.

Chris Riggs, a prevention education specialist for the NWA Center for Sexual Assault, spoke at the Feb. 11 Him4Her event at the John W. Tyson Poultry Science Building. He said men are usually perpetrators of rape, sexual harassment and assault.

“A ‘boys will be boys’ culture trivializes the problem and lacks accountability," Riggs said.

A group of campus resident assistants planned the Him4Her event, which was funded by the Residents’ Interhall Congress.

Michael Stone, a junior nursing student and one of the RAs volunteering, emphasized the importance of discussion and education about rape culture on college campuses.

The event served to educate students and encourage discussion to combat rape culture on campus by providing training scenarios and safety methods students can employ in dangerous situations, Stone said.

Nate Cole, a sophomore and RA at Hotz Hall, thinks it is important to repeatedly emphasize intervention, prevention and education on a topic that might be uncomfortable to most.

“We have to ingrain the culture in people,” Cole said. “It’s important that guys hear it from other guys because it’ll resonate more.”

Guest speaker Evan Jackson, a victims’ services advocate for the NWA Center for Sexual Assault, provided examples on how to change rape culture through conversation between men.

“If someone makes a comment that makes you uncomfortable, let them know,” Jackson said. “Don’t trivialize it. Take back the power, even if it’s just locker room talk.”

Jackson shut down the idea that a portion of accusations are false, saying he thinks survivors are often discouraged from reporting because of stigma.

“Only somewhere between 2% to 10% are proven false,” Jackson said. “Don’t let someone you’re confiding in convince you it isn’t worth reporting.”

Of 136 sexual assault cases reported to university police departments from 1998 to 2007, eight (5.9%) were determined to be false, according to a study by University of Massachusetts and Northeastern University researchers.

Brea Keiser, a senior nursing student and intern for the bystander intervention program, No Woman Left Behind, wrapped up the event by offering tips on how to intervene if seeing red flags.

“Don’t fall victim to the bystander effect,” Kaiser said. “You can act directly, distract them, or delegate the issue to someone with more control of the situation.”

The three speakers emphasized that students can play an active role in improving the culture on campus, regardless of gender.

Riggs thinks that while men are usually the perpetrator, prevention should be a collective effort.

“This affects all of us,” Riggs said. “It’s not just a women’s issue. Imagine if it were a loved one like your sister or mother.”

The NWA Center for Sexual Assault provides counseling and support groups for survivors. They employ two licensed counselors and have weekly support groups for English speakers, along with a monthly group for both Spanish speakers and members of the LGBTQ community. The center can be reached at 479-347-2304 or at the center’s website.

Students can contact No Women Left Behind through University Housing.

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