By Meredith Dobes
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and in its recognition, Roosevelt University hosted a variety of events April 9 where students, faculty and staff could participate in a dialogue about sexual violence in society and on campus.
The Clothesline Project was held in Fainman Lounge from 12 to 6 p.m. It was the university’s own version of a national project, and it allowed for those affected by sexual violence to write or draw their thoughts on pieces of paper which were hung upon strings for others to view.
Additionally, the Sexual Respect/Title IX Committee hosted an open dialogue from 5 to 6 p.m. for members of the university community to voice their thoughts about sexual violence on campus to administrators and staff members. Members of the committee in attendance included Assistant Provost of Student Affairs Bridget Collier, Director of Residence Life Eduardo Diaz, Director of Campus Safety Maureen Froncek and Assistant Director of Residence Life Mario Rodriguez.
Few students attended the dialogue, but Collier said the intent of the event was to leave the floor open to those who want to talk about or learn more about the university’s policies on sexual violence.
She discussed current and developing efforts for the university to make its students more aware of the resources available to them, the facts about sexual violence and its response to sexual violence.
In response to a recent Torch article, “Student alleges sexual assault,” in which a female undergraduate alleged a campus safety officer assaulted her in the Wabash Building, Collier said the university does not put out community blasts about sexual assault unless the perpetrator is unknown. She said this is done in order to protect victims’ privacy.
Collier added that the university abides by Title IX (preventing sex discrimination) and the Clery Act (disclosure of campus security policy and campus crime statistics) and that RAs in the Wabash Building are trained on how to respond to reports of sexual violence.
Following the dialogue, Stephen Adler, a prevention educator with Rape Victim Advocates, provided bystander intervention training from 6 to 7 p.m.
He discussed rape culture and how average people can work to end it.
“Trying to prevent sexual violence by telling women not to get raped is like trying to prevent gun violence by telling people to look out for bullets,” he said.
Adler presented the definitions of sexual violence, as defined by Illinois law. Sexual assault involves penetration, sexual abuse involves conduct like touching and sexual harassment involves any unwanted advance.
He said the way to end sexual violence is to address it as a cultural issue that is negative for both women and men — an issue that makes it difficult for victims to come forward.
For bystanders of sexual violence, he suggested using the four D’s:
-Direct: Focus on the source of the behavior. Encourage the person to engage in a different behavior.
-Distract: Keep the victim and the assailant or potential assailant apart.
-Delegate: Get others to help.
-Delayed: After the fact, tell the victim that it is not their fault, you believe them and you have options. When applicable, tell the assailant that what they did is wrong and considered sexual assault.
“The only way to prevent rape is to teach men not to do it,” Adler said.