Pictured above: An information table set up in Mossman to raise sexual assault awareness in students. There is a second table set up in the Java Jinx area for National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Students may have noticed a few tables set up around campus covered in teal, papers, pamphlets and a few fun knick and knacks.
These are intended to raise sexual assault awareness around campus. April is national sexual assault awareness month.
Dan Falk, dean of students, said “I wanted to do something passive and casual to raise awareness.”
Besides setting up the table Falk also asked staff and faculty around campus to wear teal ribbons for the week.
Some of the information laid out on the table is from the Cleary Center which established and controls the Cleary Act.
Falk explained the Cleary Act and how it controls colleges and holds them accountable. “It is like a watchdog and holds all colleges accountable for how we collect statistics along with what and how crimes are reported.”
Along with the Cleary Act there is also Title IX that must be followed.
Lonnie Boyd, Director of Human Resources and Title IX Coordinator, plays a big role to ensure Title IX is in use.
“I make sure that everyone including students, faculty and administrators are protected from gender discrimination. When talking about gender discrimination, sexual violence is included,” said Boyd. “Whether male or female, if you’re subjected to that type of behavior then you are a victim.”
Boyd went on to explain that it is then the college’s responsibility to do whatever they can to help that person not be victimized again, to protect them and help them to the best of the college’s ability.
Along with Falk and the student life staff, Boyd focuses on educating students on sexual assault. The bystander program which is taught to students at Southwestern is an example of the education.
“Helping all of our students make sure that they’re aware of what their personal boundaries are and aware of the role that they can play with their friends and colleagues. Students need to know how to protect themselves and we want to bring awareness to the forefront so that nobody is a victim,” said Boyd. “We just don’t want people to be in the situation where something bad can happen.”
A big part of raising awareness for the issue is letting students know what their options are if they are sexually assaulted.
“When a student is sexually assaulted they have the options to report it to a police department or the college but you don’t have to do both,” Falk explained. “Students will have a better chance of getting justice if they report it with us.”
Falk encouraged students to do both or whatever they are comfortable with.
“If you go through the college we don’t have to prove beyond reasonable doubt like the police do. We only have to prove that it more than likely happened or not,” said Falk.
Falk also stated it was important for students to get resources even if they don’t want to pursue charges.
“Maybe they will come to a place where they feel comfortable telling somebody about it. It may take some time but I think it is important until they get to that place that they have somebody to talk to and when they do come to a place they feel comfortable that they know their options,” said Falk.
Falk suggested that no matter what students should get an exam at William Newton Hospital if sexually assaulted. They can get the DNA and check for STDs or damage. This ensures that if a student later goes to counseling or decides they want to report it all the information is already recorded.
One in four women of college age are affected by sexual assault. Falk explained that the statistics is calculated from everywhere not just in big cities.
Bailey VenJohn is a senior majoring in communication. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.