The role of a male ally in preventing sexual assault


Jason Smith

Zachary Draves opens and introduces his lecture on the male ally.

Michelle Pacheco

Sexual assault is an issue across all college campuses. According to RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States, 26.4 percent of females and 6.8 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault during their undergraduate career. Since October is domestic violence awareness month, Zachary Draves ─ the program director for sexual assault prevention education ─ decided to offer a lecture on “The Role of a Male Ally.”

These well-being labs will offer education on ways everyone can come together to prevent sexual assault from happening on our college campuses. Since sexual assault disproportionately affects women, women have had to bear the burden of solving this issue. But now Draves is taking a new approach that engages everyone in this conversation and calls men to action. “The importance of male allyship is combating gender-based violence,” Draves said.

Draves and Farrah Roberts, director of student wellbeing and resilience, hope to add more well-being labs to Augustana’s calendar. Some of these sessions will focus on mental health and navigating college life socially, physically and emotionally. 

Draves hopes to keep the conversation about sexual assault going year-round. He will use some of these well-being labs to continue to spread awareness and educate students in areas like bystander intervention. The hope is to create a college culture that focuses on preventing sexual assault.

“We want to add more sessions, not just modules,” Roberts said. College campuses have brushed sexual assault to the side for so long, and Roberts and Draves are hoping to make Augustana a college that prioritizes students safety and prevents it from happening. 

“[We want to] create an atmosphere where students feel safe and heard, where [sexual assault] is not a taboo topic.” Roberts said.

Sexual assault is an issue and needs more active engagement by Augustana faculty and students. This is something that will take time and will start small, but there is hope that more students and staff will join the cause. 

The sexual assault prevention education program is funded by a grant that focuses on male engagement to prevent sexual assault. The grant required a year of planning, so Draves and Roberts have a very strategic outline of all their goals and assess how they reach them. 

Draves and Roberts are fully committed to this program to help spread awareness and make an impactful change in students’ lives. Upcoming sessions are to be determined, as both Draves and Roberts work together to create a calendar that will benefit students.