Lisa Saruga leads first event of Sexual Assault Awareness Month


Lisa Saruga presents "What's the Big Teal?" in the Platcha Auditorium in Warriner Hall on April 5 at 7 p.m. 

Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates (SAPA) hosted “What’s the Big Teal?” in the Plachta Auditorium in Warriner Hall on April 5 at 7 p.m. 

CMU Alum Lisa Saruga described the "worst morning of my life" that paved the way for her career, accompanied by a panel of anti-sexual violence activists.

“[Sexual assault] was not going to be something that would be a part of my language, my world or my life,” she said. “Little did I know."

TEAL stands for talk, explore, action and legislation. The color was adopted as a symbol of sexual assault awareness and prevention.

After undressing her large teal jacket, Saruga talked about being a survivor of sexual assault. It happened as an 18-year-old CMU student, after a friend left her dorm room unlocked.

"I was nearly suffocated, I was raped, and I was knifed,” she said. 35 years later, the suspect was identified but never jailed.

Saruga discussed two main things she wants to improve including laws surrounding sexual aggressors and rape culture.

“Less than 2% of rapist go to jail,” she said.

Saruga said the statute of limitations made it difficult for her to take further action against the aggressor. She encouraged students to call state legislators to stress the importance of changing these laws.

Saruga said she wants to end rape culture by targeting rape-related jokes and stereotypes. She encouraged students to explore opportunities on campus like SAPA and take action by intervening when they see suspicious activity.

"We need big noise to bring this back to the forefront of our attention," Saruga said. "If we want to get things changed, it's going to take a big TEAL."

Following Saruga's discussion, SAPA members spoke on the organizations contributions to sexual assault awareness on campus.

For more information about Lisa Saruga, visit her website. Saruga's discussion was the first of several events in April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month