By Alissa Sheppard
Hosting several events for safety week as a senior project, Alexandria Hobson, history senior, put together a sexual assault awareness panel, Thursday April 12 in Wroten Hall.
There were two different sessions, one for the women and one for the men. At 5:30 p.m. a little over 30 women showed up to hear several guest speakers. Then again at 7:30 p.m., around 15 men showed up for the same.
After talking with her advisors, Hobson felt like she should do something that would impact students. “I wanted to make students more aware of what sexual assault is, and how to prevent it,” said Hobson. She chose a host of several different speakers from the community.
The first person to speak was Sgt. Christina McDonald. She spoke to the women about how to prevent assaults from happening, and what to do if something does happen. She talked with the men about making the right decisions. She also spoke with the males about being aware of what kind of women to stay away from at outings to prevent assaults from happening.
“I chose her because she deals specifically with victims of assault, so she would know firsthand how to help us,” said Hobson.
The second speaker was Mica Runnels, director client services at Safe Home. “I chose her to speak because she deals with the “aftermath” of assaults,” said Hobson. Runnels spoke with the audience about what possible solutions after an assault, and taught them that there is a place to go and there are people who will listen to you and help you along the way.
The last speaker was Brian and Cindy Sanderholm, parents of Jodi Sanderholm. They told the story of their daughter’s life and how it drastically ended due to a man who started off as a stalker. “I felt that their story would be most impactful for the students, and that is why I had them on the panel,” said Hobson.
An impact is exactly what Morgan Workman, mathematics education freshman, got from the panel. “I thought it was really great, and the presentations were well put together.” She said she was able to feel the hurt that the parents felt as they told the story of their daughter. “I originally went because it was an extra credit opportunity, but it was really heartfelt and full of emotion, but that quickly changed when I got there,” said Workman. She said she learned a lot from all the speakers, she will now implement the buddy system. “If I had the opportunity to go again I would not miss out on it, and I would bring more friends along,” said Workman.
For other students like Dejon Brison, business freshman, this event was something they wanted to go to. “I felt like I needed to know exactly what sexual assault was all about, and know how to help prevent it,” said Brison. He said he learned that the most important thing is to use your head in every situation because it can easily go bad. “I feel like my friends and I had a change of heart after we heard from the assault panel.”
“Seeing people cry after the speakers showed me that they truly learned how serious and important this is,” said Hobson.
Alissa Sheppard is a senior majoring in communication, you may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.