By Kalyn Dunkins
Arts & Life Editor
The Sexual Harassment and Rape Education (SHARE) program is a student-led organization that has helped enlighten Denison’s campus on how to handle situations surrounding sexual assault and rape.
The President and Vice President of the organization are Karen Osborne ’16 from Leicester, North Carolina and Abbie Thill ’16, from Minneapolis, Minnesota respectively.
Their two main goals are to first educate the campus about sexual misconduct and secondly to train students as confidential supporters for survivors of sexual misconduct. According to Thill, SHARE’s impact on campus is incredibly versatile.
“Organizations like SHARE are important to any campus, because they bring to light sexual assault issues, which our society typically likes to cover up and pretend isn’t a problem,” she said. “I think that’s true for Denison as well, although it’s getting better.
“More specifically related to our campus, I think SHARE is important because of our hookup/party culture. We’ve been working really hard as an organization to combat that culture, because it tends to lead to dangerous behavior and a lot of sexual assault.”
The organization promotes several events throughout the year to generate both conversation and activism, including showing movies, bringing speakers and hosting events like Take Back the Night.
“Sexual assault and misconduct are hugely important issues on college campuses everywhere,” Osborne said. “These problems affect so many people at Denison, and it’s imperative that we address them—through education, prevention efforts, policy changes and most importantly, supporting survivors.”
Training sessions for those interested in becoming advocates are hosted twice—once in the fall and again in the spring—which will soon be advertised around campus.all training begins in early October.
“There are typically three days of training that last for a couple of hours each, during which you hear from Denison staff in Safety and Security, the Title IX office, Whisler and more about their roles in cases of sexual misconduct as either confidential resources or reporting resources,” Osborne said.
“After completing training, advocates attend once-monthly meetings to retain their confidentiality.”
Osborne would also like for anyone interested to note that they can neither be a resident assistant or head resident if they want to be confidential SHARE advocates. Since SHARE advocates stand firmly behind their confidentiality policy, RAs and HRs are still encouraged to complete training to learn more, after which they will be SHARE Representatives, or non-confidential members of SHARE.
SHARE hopes to make closer and more engaged connections with the first-year class. For the first time during Aug-O, the organization hosted a presentation about sex and consent. Each first-year hall was individually paired with a SHARE advocate who acted as a personal resource.
“As SHARE grows on campus, we are hoping to encourage a broader culture of consent at Denison,” Osborne said. “SHARE has rapidly grown since I first joined in 2012, and with that growth comes the big responsibility of representing Denison as a place which does not tolerate rape culture, victim blaming or slut shaming.”