Welcome back, everyone! And to all first-year students, welcome to UNH! My name is Jordyn Haime, and I’m the new student marketing and communications assistant for the Sexual Harassment & Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP). I’ve been volunteering with SHARPP for the past two years as a community educator and later as a peer advocate.
For new students, your first year of college can be an exciting yet overwhelming time. At SHARPP, we like to say we’re not the sex police, because we’re not. We just want to make sure you know the difference between a consensual experience and a nonconsensual one.
We cannot ignore the realities of campus sexual assault. One in four women and one in 10 men will be sexually assaulted while in college. The first six to eight weeks of the year is the most vulnerable time for first-year students; according to Rape and Incest National Network statistics, more than 50 percent of college sexual assaults occur from August to November. This is not because first year students are any less smart than older students but because incoming students typically have fewer friends to check up on them, less drinking experience and are eager to fit in. In other words, perpetrators of sexual violence see a vulnerability and attempt to take advantage of it.
But there is help for you at UNH. We’re lucky enough to have one of only a few sexual assault crisis centers on college campuses in the country. SHARPP provides services to survivors of sexual assault, relationship abuse and stalking, as well as services to those close to a survivor. You can find the number for SHARPP’s 24/7 helpline on the back of your student ID.
As Wildcats, we look out for each other, and a huge part of that is being an active bystander. You can help by learning how to recognize when someone is in a potentially dangerous situation and knowing how to intervene to make sure they are safe. For example, you might be at a party and notice someone being targeted when they are too drunk to consent.
Being an active bystander is simple and could save someone from a potential assault:
- Interpret the situation. Ask yourself: is that person too drunk to consent? Do they look like they need help? Is there a safe way I can intervene while also watching out for my own safety? Trust your instinct if something doesn’t seem right about a situation.
- Take action. There are a few different ways you can safely intervene in a situation while keeping yourself and the other person safe. Interrupt the situation by telling them that their friend has been looking for them all night and pull them aside. If the situation looks potentially dangerous or violent, call the police (911) or an authority. If you don’t know what to do, call SHARPP at our 24/7 support helpline, (603) 862-7233.
- Follow up. Don’t leave after you’ve gotten someone out of the situation. It’s your responsibility to look out for your fellow Wildcats and keep one another safe. Ask the victim if they want to leave or offer to walk or drive them back to their home. Provide a listening ear, and make sure they are okay; let them know what their options are through SHARPP and other campus services.
If you have more questions about being an active bystander or about anything related to SHARPP, you can stop in the office during SHARPP’s operating hours, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. You can also find our info table at Union Court Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:30 p.m. - 2 p.m. and visit our website at www.unh.edu/sharpp/. Confidential SHARPP advocates are available to those who have been affected by any form of sexual/relationship violence 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling (603) 862-7233.