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MIT groups set to hold Rape Awareness Week

By Neil J. Ross

In an attempt to raise the consciousness of the MIT community to the question of rape, a week-long event designed to involve hundreds of MIT students is being organized for the week of Oct. 2. This Rape Awareness Week is jointly sponsored by the Association of Women Students and the newly-formed Rape Awareness and Prevention Program.

With broad publicity (including a booth in Lobby 10) the event could provide the same sort of rallying point for the fledgling Rape Awareness and Prevention Program as the April 9 March on Washington provided for the Association for Women Students, according to organizer Michelle Bush '91.

Organizers of Rape Awareness Week hope to reach the whole MIT community, extending beyond an exclusively female audience. As Fred Pelka, a founder of the Boston/Cambridge Men Against Sexual Assault (MESA) pointed out, it is important "that men see other men raising concerns about rape." Kim Morrison of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center also noted that anti-rape campaigns tend to start where the job is easiest: that is among women.

MESA has strong MIT connections with three out of the ten active volunteers being MIT students who participate in the educational speaking and presentation engagements, according to Pelka.

Scheduled activities will include a men's forum on Wednesday of next week, which is designed to raise men's awareness of the questions involved. A panel discussion focusing on the issue of date rape is also planned. The panel will include Cheryl Vossmer of the MIT Campus Police Crime Prevention Unit and Ann Russo from the Women's Studies Program. Other activities include a self-defense class, a dance, and a movie.

This Rape Awareness Week is part of a mood of rising concern over rape on campuses. The FBI recorded a 4.9 percent increase in reported rapes nationally from 1987 to 1988.

Northeastern University Professor William Kay, who was involved in coordinating a series of talks by MESA for male freshmen in the School of Criminal Justice at Northeastern, noted that often programs are aimed at precautions which inhibit women's freedom. The MIT event will end with a demonstration, "Take Back the Night," highlighting the restrictions women feel in city environments.

MIT Campus Police have seen the brutal effects of rape, according to Chief of Police Anne P. Glavin. Glavin, in her 15 years at MIT, has had to deal with victims. "You are dealing with a person in crisis ... [who] feels violated, victimized, embarrassed and ... [wrongly] guilty," she said.

In order to prevent a repeat of these experiences, the Campus Police have been running a night-time escort service on campus since the early 1970's, and last year carried out about 7000 escorts. There are also 18 distinctive blue direct line telephones on campus for emergency use.

In addition, three out of seventeen items in the freshman crime prevention package, due to be distributed after Columbus Day, are on the subject of rape. And every female Campus Police officer receives special training in dealing with rape victims.