Start the Conversation

ALLISON PILLAR | THE SPECTRUM Staying silent only protects perpetrators of violence.
Staying silent only protects perpetrators of violence.

Rape and sexual assault have been hot topics in the media lately, and I can’t help but think there is more we can do to stop it. But where do we start? How do we get the conversation going?

I had the opportunity to hear Tal Peretz, academic at Seattle University, author of “Some Men: Feminist Allies and the Movement to End Violence Against Women” and blogger at

Peretz was at NDSU talking about feminism, sexual assault and the role everyone, especially men, can play in stopping it. His blog has helpful tips for ways men can get involved in the conversation by educating themselves and using their male privilege to make positive change.

I had the opportunity to talk with Peretz after his presentation, and one statement really stuck with me:

“When we’re silent, whom are we protecting?”

The issue of sexual assault is an uncomfortable topic, but one that needs to be talked about. Paying attention and getting the conversation started is the first step.

This past fall, a sexual assault was reported close to home, mere blocks from campus. Just last week, a man who plead guilty to sexual assault of a Minnesota State University Moorhead student was sentenced to just a year of supervised probation.

These cases, two of countless reported and unreported cases, illustrate this issue is indeed close to home and one we need to pay attention to.

How can we get the conversation started?

  • Check out The Clothesline Project now through April 10. An open house with refreshments will be held on April 10 from 5-8 p.m.
  • Invite the NDSU Violence Prevention Educators to talk to student organizations you are involved in
  • Listen to Jessica Valenti, author of “Yes Means Yes,” a book addressing consent and sexual assault, on April 9 at 5:30 p.m. as she talks about “Why Feminism (STILL) Matters”
  • Come to the Sexpo organized by the NDSU Women’s Activist Organization to learn about community resources and organizations doing work to end sexual and domestic violence
  • Attend Take Back the Night during the fall semester to support survivors of sexual assault
  • Participate in rallies and protests in the community
  • Read books and blogs about feminism and sexual assault prevention because they everywhere
  • Watch videos of Jackson Katz, Laci Green and Jessica Valenti, activists who address sexual assault in their work

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