Chugiak grad leads campaign against sexual assault

Sunday, May 6, 2018 - 13:57

Some of the most visible students on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus are speaking out against sexual assault.

“We’re using our voices for a good cause,” said Sarissa Lammers, a senior Nordic skier and mechanical engineering major.

A 2014 Chugiak High grad, Lammers recently helped organize a public service campaign in which UAF athletes posed for photos in their uniforms while holding signs with slogans such as “It’s On Us” and “No More.”

On April 17, Lammers conducted the photo shoots in conjunction with the National Student Athlete Day of Action, bringing handwritten signs to various athletic venues on the Fairbanks campus.

Though she’s currently in the final weeks of finishing her degree, Lammers and roommate Cheyenne Greenside (a UAF cross-country runner) spent the night before making signs in anticipation of the event.

“Leading up to the day I talked with coaches and athletes and set up times to meet,” she said.

Lammers said getting to meet with all the different teams made for an enjoyable day.

“I think it went really well,” she said.

Getting her fellow athletes to help out was no problem, she said.

“Everyone was super excited when I explained what I was doing and what the initiative was all about.”

The photos were distributed on social media and online, where they’ve been shared by students across the country.

Lammers said the campaign has been well received.

“The reception has been very positive,” she said.

Sexual assault both in Alaska and on college campuses nationwide is a major problem. The FBI says Alaska has the highest rates of sexual assault in the nation, and according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one in five women in college experiences sexual assault.

That’s why Lammers wanted to get involved in the movement.

“It’s a large problem on all campuses,” she said.

The focus of the campaign is on making sure victims feel comfortable coming forward with stories of abuse and creating awareness about consent.

“I guarantee everybody knows someone who has been affected by sexual assault or abuse or they’ve been stalked or harassed in some form and it’s very likely that we don’t even know it,” she said. “So letting them know that it’s ok and we’re here to listen can start that change.”

Lammers said the goal is to change the culture and create a place where women are free from the threat of sexual violence.

“We want to make our campus a safe space,” she said.

That Lammers is leading the campaign likely comes as little surprise to those who know her. The senior is a star athlete who was the state Skimeister at Chugiak before becoming an NCAA Division II All-America skier and scholar athlete for the Nanooks. She’s also the Great Northwest Athletic Conference representative to the NCAA Division II National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

After graduation, Lammers said she would like to pursue a career in biomedical engineering. But with the due date for senior project just days away, the Nanooks star said her primary goal is simply reaching the finish line.

“I’m just focusing on making it the next two weeks to graduation,” she said.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call (907) 257-4274

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