Getting the message across: Flag display creates awareness of sexual assault

A flag display has been set up at UH Hilo to give viewers a visual of national assault statistics if applied to the UH Hilo student population.

By Susan Enright. Photos by Zoe Coffman.

Flag display. Flags are pinned into the lawn with signs showing statistics.
Flag display on the lawn outside the Campus Center at UH Hilo.

 

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and as part of a calendar of events at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, a flag display has been set up on the lawn outside the University Classroom Building to give viewers a visual of national assault statistics if applied to the UH Hilo student population.

Destiny Rodriguez
Destiny Rodriguez

“Although much of the UH Hilo community may know the statistics surrounding sexual assault, we feel a visual display can also be quite effective in getting the message across,” says Destiny Rodriguez, a Title IX/VAWA educator and confidential advocate at the UH Hilo Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO).

For the display, national statistics were applied to the population of UH Hilo students to arrive at possible statistics within that population. The national numbers are alarming.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), statistics show that one in five women and one in 16 men have been or will be sexually assaulted while in college. Additionally, Brown University conducted a study that showed 12 percent of college students identify as LGBTQ+, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that one in three LGBTQ+ individuals have been or will be sexually assaulted while in college.

Based on these statistics and the number of women and men enrolled at UH Hilo this semester, Rodriguez calculated how many men, women and LGBTQ+ individuals may have been or may be sexually assaulted while in college.

“Although these numbers are alarming, and not specified in the display, it is important to be aware that 427 women, 86 men, and 139 LGBTQ+ individuals could be or have been sexually assaulted while in college,” she explains. “The display indicates these categories by using teal, blue, and purple flags representing women, men and LGBTQ+ individuals, respectively.”

EEO/AA office student employees Alexis Sagaz, Sara Costantino, and Yesenia Villafuerte helped Rodriguez with the display. The project idea came from the Prevention, Awareness, Understanding (PAU) Violence Program, a UH System effort based at UH Mānoa to eliminate gender-based violence on all 10 campuses. The PAU Violence Program also sponsored the display.

Amy Gregg
Amy Gregg

Amy Gregg, advisor and instructor of the UH Hilo Gender and Women’s Studies Program, sent Rodriguez an email (cc’d to the university community) thanking her for the display.

“Thank you for the very effective display of sexual assault statistics via the colored flags in the grass by UCB,” writes Gregg in the email. “This is a moving and sobering tribute. Thank you for bringing awareness to this important topic, and for all the work you are doing as an educator and confidential advocate in the OEO office. I’m proud of how you are putting your Gender & Women’s Studies major from UH Hilo to work for social justice!”

 

Flag display on lawn. Flags are pinned into the lawn with signs showing statistics. Palms in background.

 

About the author: Susan Enright is a public information specialist in the Office of the Chancellor. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.

About the photographer: Zoe Coffman (senior, art) is a photography intern in the Office of the Chancellor.

-UH Hilo Stories.