LULA BURKE, News Editor—Denison had six counts of rape and four counts of fondling in 2019, according to the annual Campus Safety and Fire Safety Report. The National Crime Victimization Survey estimates that 6.1 sexual assaults occur for every 1,000 college students per year.
Organizations, individuals and students across the United States recognize April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) to foster discussion about the prevention and understanding of sexual violence. This year, the Denison Coalition for Sexual Respect (DCSR) and the Sexual Harassment & Assault Resources & Education organization (SHARE) created discussion “cheat sheets” for campus organizations to use during meetings to ensure that concepts surrounding sexual misconduct are consistently addressed.
The six cheat sheets each covered different topics, including “Situational Awareness,” “Basic Consent Practices,” “Introspective Dialogue,” “Systematic Oppression and Sexual Violence,” “Denison-Specific Dialogue” and “Mental Health and Sexual Violence.” Each sheet had an introduction to the respective topic and several questions such as “Do you know how to report a sexual assault?” and “How do you define consent?” as well as “What would you do…” questions.
In addition to the cheat sheets, several other events were held related to SAAM. DCSR hosted a banner making event where all sorts of organizations, from fraternities and sororities to DCGA, created large banners with supportive messaging that were hung in Slayter.
Emma Olgeirson ‘21 is the sexual respect chair for Tridelt, and has been since Jan. 2020. This year, she helped host sexual respect trivia for the other Greek organizations. She said that the fun nature of these games allows students to easily approach such a difficult subject. “Talking about sexual respect is really difficult sometimes,” she said. “Trivia was successful because it was a fun and playful way to talk about such difficult things.”
Title IX Coordinator Stephanie Jackson said that these small events are beneficial for raising awareness in a fun, comfortable environment.
“Banner making, discussions and dialogues, cheet-sheets, scavenger hunts, etc., are great opportunities for organizations such as DCSR and SHARE Advocates, and offices such as the Office of Gender and Sexuality and the Office of Title IX and Sexual Respect Education to meet students where they are in order to engage students on campus and bring attention to sexual violence awareness and prevention efforts through various forms, locations and mediums,” she said.
Jackson uses a “trauma-informed framework” when dealing with cases of sexual assault to promote empowerment and safety. She emphasized that those who come forward with their cases are in full control of the process, and can share as much or as little information as they feel comfortable with.
“[This includes] thanking them for coming forward and assuring them that what happened to them was not their fault, and empowering them with information and choices about how they may proceed through a University process, a criminal process or both,” Jackson said.
“I also offer to connect individuals with counselors or clergy (who are a legally confidential resource) and with private but not confidential peer-to-peer resources such as speaking with a SHARE advocate or CA who are knowledgeable about the University and criminal process as well as the feelings of isolation which often accompany this traumatic experience.”
Survivors of sexual assault should know that they are not alone, and are not defined by their experiences. Students are encouraged to reach out to peers, members of DCSR or SHARE, or to Stephanie Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.