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210 Pittsboro Street, Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC  27599-6210
(919) 962-2091   FAX: (919) 962-2279


For immediate use Oct. 15, 1998 -- No. 756


UNC-CH campus group plans ‘24 Hour Rape Free Zone’ to raise awareness of sexual assault

CHAPEL HILL -- Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will create a "24 Hour Rape Free Zone" on campus Oct. 23-24 to raise awareness about sexual assault and rape and promote prevention.

The student organization Advocates for Sexual Assault Prevention, along with other campus groups and administrators at UNC-CH, will establish "rape-free" zone from 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 23 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 24 on Polk Place between South Building and Wilson Library. The event will offer members of the campus community a safe, educational and pleasant environment, said Smita Varia, a senior from Chapel Hill and a key organizer of the event.

Varia said the "24 Hour Rape Free Zone" will educate people about the problem of sexual assault, and encourage people to unite to promote the prevention of sexual assault.

"One of the main purposes in having a 24-hour zone is to make people aware that rape happens all the time, anytime, and that we have to create an actual physical zone to ensure safety," she said. "We hope that every time people walk through the quad, they will make the connection that rape occurs every day."

The "24 Hour Rape Free Zone" will address ways to prevent sexual assault and encourage students and others to discard their misconceptions about the problem through educational programs and speakers, she said.

Campus organizations, university administrators, student government and area businesses will sponsor a free lunch Friday, Oct. 23, and a free breakfast at 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, and a raffle. Student Body President Reyna Walters and Chancellor Michael Hooker will speak at the opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 23. Keynote speaker Katie Koestner will speak about her experience with date rape during an address called "No-Yes" at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Performances by campus groups will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23.

Advocates for Sexual Assault Prevention organized last February to raise awareness and prevention of sexual assault though education and action. In promoting the "24 Hour Rape Free Zone,"

Varia said organizers hope that one day, each day will be free from rape and sexual assault.

"We really want people to think about what rape is -- and that it is not a stranger coming out of the darkness with a knife," she said. "Most rapes and sexual assaults are committed by acquaintances. I hope people leave with the idea that rape is not aggressive sexuality, it is sexual aggression."

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Student contacts: Smita Varia, 914-5465; Krista Parks, 932-9578; Elizabeth Lindquist, 408-3269.

Student Health Service contact: Emily O'Barr, coordinator of human sexuality programs, Center for Healthy Student Behaviors, 966-8123

News Services contact: Karen Stinneford, 962-8415