Campus News

UB adds sexual assault awareness program to Opening Weekend activities

A student takes a selfie last year as he takes part in the forming the interlocking human UB, one of the marquee events of Opening Weekend. Photo: Douglas Levere

By SUE WUETCHER

Published August 24, 2016

“The first few weeks of school are a high-risk time for sexual assault, and students with previous experiences of sexual violence are at even greater risk.”
Anna Sotelo-Peryea, public health planner and violence prevention coordinator
Wellness Education Services

UB welcomes the newest members of the university community this weekend with a variety of fun-filled activities and informative programs before classes begin on Monday.

Of particular note — and new this year to the Opening Weekend schedule — is a program that aims to help new students become more aware of the issue of sexual assault, one that has been at the forefront on college campuses across the country.

All first-year students are required to attend a session of Sex Signals, an interactive show exploring the cultural aspects of sex and bystander intervention. It combines improv comedy, education and audience participation in an effort to deconstruct gender-role stereotypes and unrealistic fantasies, and challenge students to come up with solutions to real-life problems, according to Anna Sotelo-Peryea, public health planner and violence prevention coordinator for Wellness Education Services.

While Wellness Education Services has brought the Sex Signals program to UB in the past, Sotelo-Peryea believes this is first time the show has been part of Opening Weekend.

That timing is particularly important, she says, because the transition to college is a critical time for students.

“The first few weeks of school are a high-risk time for sexual assault, and students with previous experiences of sexual violence are at even greater risk,” she notes. “Providing this program during Opening Weekend lets our students know that this is an issue, empowers them with strategies of how they can help make high-risk situations safer for everyone involved, and connects students with campus resources so that they know how to get involved on campus, seek help and, if they’ve already experienced sexual violence, understand that we’re here to support them.” 

Sotelo-Peryea says Sex Signals is part of an “ongoing conversation” UB has with its students that starts with Haven, an online educational program incoming students must complete before they arrive on campus, continues in person through the Sex Signals program at Opening Weekend, and then extends throughout students’ time at UB through in-class programs, curricular options and workshops and trainings. This information, she stresses, is critical for students.

With this ongoing, multipronged strategy as part of a greater comprehensive plan to prevent sexual violence, Sotelo-Peryea says “UB is proud of the success we’ve had in decreasing incidents of sexual violence, increasing reporting — a reflection of trust in the institution, especially for such an under-reported crime — and increasing awareness of sexual assault and relationship violence.”

Opening Weekend officially begins tomorrow and Friday when freshmen move into their residence halls, assisted by faculty, staff and student volunteers. Those volunteers also are staffing the Welcome Tents — located at the Capen bus loop and in front of the Student Union on the North Campus and at the Main bus loop on the South Campus — providing campus maps and vital information to help students familiarize themselves with their new home away from home.

Once students are moved in, they can take part in the University Resource Fair to learn about student services, campus jobs and set up bank and cell phone accounts. They also can attend open houses for such key student services as the Office of Student Engagement, Intercultural and Diversity Center and the Academies.

The weekend’s marquee events begin at 4 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 28, at the Student Union Field — rain site is Alumni Arena — with the Opening Weekend Welcome and Interlocking UB photo. More than 2,300 students wearing UB T-shirts will come together to form the university’s logo. President Satish K. Tripathi and other UB administrators will be on hand to welcome students to the university.

The Welcome Back Picnic takes place from 5-7 p.m. at Baird Point — rain site is the Student Union. Students can enjoy a free chicken barbecue dinner at iconic Baird Point while mingling with faculty, staff and other new students.

Other Friday evening activities include a men’s soccer game vs. Daemen College (7 p.m., UB Stadium) and a screening of “Independence Day 2: Resurgence” at 9 p.m. on the Student Union Field — rain site is the Student Union Theater.

Opening Weekend continues on Saturday, Aug. 27, with UB Pride and Service Day, during which students spend the morning participating in community service projects in Buffalo neighborhoods. After spending the morning volunteering, students can board a bus to Niagara Falls, the Elmwood Arts Festival or Canalside Buffalo.

Saturday’s activities wrap up with the Late Night Welcome Back Bash from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. outside on the Student Union Field and inside in the Student Union. The event will feature music, a paint war dance party, game shows, crafts, food and prizes.

Another new event, Cyclovia, highlights activities on Sunday. Named for the Spanish word for the closing of streets to automobiles for cyclists and pedestrians, the UB cycling and street festival takes place from 3-5 p.m. on the Special Events Field near the UB Bookstore. The event will spotlight UB student clubs and community organizations, and feature skating demonstrations, a BMX stunt show, yoga instruction, street art and performance, and bike safety and registration information.

It’s being led by Blackstone LaunchPad at UB, a program that encourages entrepreneurial thinking, and UB Parking and Transportation Services.

The day concludes with 9 p.m. screenings of “Captain America” on the Student Union Field and “Central Intelligence” in the Student Union Theater.

The full schedule of Opening Weekend events can be found on the Opening Weekend website.

Opening Weekend kicks off “Fall into UB,” a month-long, campus-wide series of special events designed to celebrate the start of the academic year.