'Cover the Cruiser' unites campus against sexual violence

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'Cover the Cruiser' unites campus against sexual violence

Elizabeth Uwase, a junior integrated science major from Rwanda, affixes her "Use Your Voice" pledge to a police car during the Sept 10 Cover the Cruiser event on East Campus. More than 75 students, faculty and staff made a pledge to stand up to sexual violence in the first day of the initiative.
Troy Fedderson | University Communication
Elizabeth Uwase, a junior integrated science major from Rwanda, affixes her "Use Your Voice" pledge to a police car during the Sept 10 Cover the Cruiser event on East Campus. More than 75 students, faculty and staff made a pledge to stand up to sexual violence in the first day of the initiative.

More than 75 Huskers pledged to speak out and stand up against sexual and relationship violence in the first of a three-day "Cover the Cruiser" initiative.

Organized by the University Police Department and the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska, the project encourages students, faculty and staff to sign a “Use Your Voice” pledge card and attach it to a police car. Each card signifies a commitment to help others and speak out against all forms of sexual violence.

The project — which started Sept. 10 on East Campus and continues Sept. 12-13 on City Campus — is intended to raise awareness about sexual assault prevention and educate about support programs available on campus and in the community. When complete, the pledges will be removed from the car and put on display in the Nebraska Union.

“This is an opportunity for the entire campus community to come together and show their support for and start a larger discussion about a very important topic,” said Hassan Ramzah, interim chief for the University Police Department. “It is my hope that the cruiser is completely covered with pledges.”

Elizabeth Uwase, a junior integrated science major from Rwanda, was among the students, faculty and staff who signed pledges on Sept. 10.

“This is a very important way to show that the campus is standing together and supporting each other,” Uwase said. “It’s also good to learn that there are people to see and places to go when you need help.

“I’m glad the university is offering this pledge.”

The Cover the Cruiser events continue Sept. 12 and 13. Both events are 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Nebraska Union Plaza.

ASUN unanimously supported participation in the event, passing a resolution during its Sept. 4 meeting. The bill cited two statistics from a University of Michigan study — 21 percent of college students reported they experienced dating violence by a current partner, and that 32 percent of those surveyed experienced dating violence by a previous partner.

“Those numbers are much higher than I expected and, they also show the need for us to do more in terms of education about sexual assault and the support programs we have available at this university,” ASUN president Emily Johnson said. “Partnering with the University Police Department is a great opportunity to raise awareness and to set the tone for this academic year.”

Remaining Cover the Cruiser events are 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 12 and 13 are on the Nebraska Union Plaza.

“We encourage every member of the campus community to come out, talk with us and take a stand against sexual and relationship violence,” Ramzah said. “Getting involved and making a pledge — even a very simple one — will promote safety, awareness and education.”

When all three Cover the Cruiser events are complete, the pledge cards will be put on display in the Nebraska Union.