Sexual assault teach-in prepared for next semester

Following a year of planning and training, the Sexual Assault Teach-In will be held March 6 to promote safety and awareness on campus.

Administrative Director of Student Health and Counseling Melinda DuBois and psychology professor Jennifer Katz are leading the steering committee.

Through a series of surveys, Katz began gathering information last spring to decide what the program should focus on.

"We're looking at what we can do as individuals … and as a campus," DuBois said.

The teach-in will begin with a guest speaker from University of Kentucky's Green Dot program. The Green Dot is a movement promoting violence prevention. Since its launch at UK, the movement has spread to over 50 college campuses.

Other speakers including a sexual assault nurse examiner will be present to talk and answer questions. After facilitators talk about their own experiences and what they've learned, the audience will break into groups for discussion.

Facilitators including students and faculty began training for the event earlier this semester. A series of nine workshops exploring the complexities of sexual assault is nearing completion. These workshops include readings, discussions, and activities which address a variety of topics ranging from rape myths to the correlation between alcohol and assault.

According to DuBois, the main goal of the teach-in is to find solutions, and essentially to determine, "What are we currently doing and how we can make it better?"

According to Katz, the mingling of faculty and students opened the doors to varied sources of knowledge and experience. "We've had a lot of student involvement; it's been wonderful to see," she said. "We can get everyone together to share information."

Volunteers have been able to contribute information gathered from experience, research and other sources.

DuBois said that there is still a misconception on campus that sexual assault is not a serious problem.

The goal is to erase the silence and secrecy around sexual assault, Katz said. "The more people are aware, the more they can help."