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Student-made films initiate sexual assault conversations

DeKALB – The national statistics on sexual assault on college campuses are frightening.

For example, one in five women are victims of completed or attempted sexual assault while in college, and 90 percent of victims know their attacker, according to a news release from Northern Illinois University.

On Thursday and Friday, one of two films by NIU students will be shown at the Women’s Resource Center, in an effort to spur a dialogue on the issue.

“The Women’s Resource Center already has victim advocacy services, but we want to do programming and events that allow men to learn and be involved,” said Molly Holmes director of the Women’s Resource Center. She said the film would be discussed and resources will be available.

The documentary, “Red Blooded Man,” directed by Jacob Johnson, and a second narrative film, “In Motion,” directed by Alexandra Forni, were created by two groups of graduate students in a communications class taught by professor Laura Vazquez. A member of the University Film and Video Association, Vazquez said she got involved with PACT5 in the summer of 2012.

PACT5 is a grass roots movement that began in the documentary production classes of five universities – NIU, Rowan University in New Jersey, California State University at Northridge, Western State Colorado University and Framingham State University in Massachusetts.

“Dedicated to stopping sexual assaults in colleges, PACT5 believes that short documentaries produced by students can create powerful stories that can change potentially tragic behavior patterns,” the PACT5 website says.

“During the first semester on this project, it struck me that no one talked,” Vazquez said of her students. “Are they not interested? Are they bored? The overwhelming response was that no one had ever talked to them about sexual assault before.

“This is too important. Once we got over that ... discussions flowed more easily.”

Although the number of those working on the projects was small at just 15 students, Vazquez said they reached out to others, who she hopes will do the same.

“I’m optimistic we set that in motion,” she said.

Vazquez said that not only were her students on a mission to create their films, but they started the discussion with 40 other men.

“Maybe they will start behaving differently,” Vazquez said. “That’s how you start change.”

If you go 

What: Showing of “Red Blooded Men,” a student-made documentary, directed by Jacob Johnson, exploring college life from the male perspective and society’s notions of masculinity and femininity.

When 5 p.m. Thursday and 10:30 a.m. Friday

Where: NIU Women’s Resource Center, corner of Lincoln Highway and Normal Road

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