Flag display aims to raise awareness of sexual violence on KU’s campus

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More than 3,300 flags cover the Watson Lawn on the University of Kansas campus this week — one for each survivor of sexual violence at KU.

The flags, which are accompanied by posters and chalk messages, highlight more statistics about the prevalence of sexual violence at KU, are part of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center’s campaign to raise awareness about the issue.

The display is part of the SAPEC’s schedule of events for April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The flag project is set to run until the end of the week.

“These are to represent the victims of sexual violence during their time at KU,” said Jaclyn Carpenter, education program coordinator for the SAPEC. “The flags represented here are based on the data specific to KU.”

Cuyler Dunn/Lawrence Times White flags cover the Watson Lawn on the University of Kansas campus, April 11, 2023. Each flag represents a student survivor of sexual violence.

The website about the project provides this breakdown of the 3,354 total flags:

Nationally, one in four cisgender women will experience sexual violence while in college. At KU, this percentage would equate to an estimated 2,598 of 9,991 (26%) full-time enrolled female students.

Nationally, one in fourteen cisgender men will experience sexual violence while in college. At KU, this percentage would equate to an estimated 598 of 8,543 (7%) full-time enrolled male students.

Nationally, one in two TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, nonbinary or otherwise gender nonconforming) individuals will experience sexual violence while in college. At KU, this percentage would equate to an estimated 158 of 316 (50%) full-time enrolled TGQN students.

KU’s Sexual Assault Prevention & Education Center has created the flag display every year since 2016.

The goal, according to Carpenter, is to help bring awareness to how pervasive sexual violence is on college campuses across the country, including at KU.

The SAPEC has resources on its website at sapec.ku.edu/resources for anyone who would benefit from its services.

Cuyler Dunn/Lawrence Times

Resources for survivors

If you have experienced sexual violence or trauma, please seek the help that’s right for you. There are many options available, and you don’t have to file a police report if you don’t want to.

Get 24/7 help in Lawrence: The Sexual Trauma & Abuse Care Center
  • Call 785-843-8985 to reach an advocate, 24/7. (Consider saving that number in your phone in case you or someone you know ever needs it.)
  • After an assault: What are my options? Check this page for detailed information about
    • talking to an advocate,
    • going to the hospital,
    • making a police report,
    • and/or talking to a counselor or therapist.
  • On campus? Check this page for specific resources for the University of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University, Baker University, Ottawa University and more.
Resources on KU’s campus:
  • Contact the CARE (Campus Assistance, Resource, and Education) Coordinator: Students can make an appointment by email, care@ku.edu, or by calling 785-864-9255. It’s free, confidential and voluntary to talk with the CARE Coordinator. All genders welcome. Read more here.
  • Find more KU campus resources at this link. Specific information about sexual assault exams can be found here.
  • Direct message KU CARE Sisters on Instagram. You don’t need to be affiliated with Greek Life to reach out and/or receive assistance. (Note: CARE Sisters provide peer support and education, but this is not a 24/7 service like others listed here.)
Domestic violence situations: The Willow Domestic Violence Center
  • Reach the Willow for help 24/7 at 785-843-3333.
  • Find more resources on the Willow’s website at this link.
More resources
  • StrongHearts Native Helpline: Call 1-844-7NATIVE (762-8483) for 24/7 safe, confidential and anonymous domestic and sexual violence support for Native Americans and Alaska Natives that is culturally appropriate.
  • National hotline: Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), text “START” to 88788, and/or visit thehotline.org to chat and learn more, 24/7.
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Cuyler Dunn (he/him), a contributor to The Lawrence Times, is a student at the University of Kansas School of Journalism. He is a graduate of Lawrence High School where he was the editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper, The Budget, and was named the 2022 Kansas High School Journalist of the Year. Read more of his work for the Times here.

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