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University & USGA Host Sexual Assault Roundtables

TJ Tijerina

TJ Tijerina

Riley Knebes, Staff Writer

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Why is it that when people hear the term “sexual violence” they instantly become uncomfortable and change the subject? Why do they say that they already know enough about prevention strategies when this continues to be an ongoing problem on college campuses? And most importantly, why is everyone avoiding this conversation? These are just some of the questions that the University of New Haven, through the recent and ongoing Sexual Violence and Prevention Roundtables, is trying to address. These are problems that Undergraduate Student Government Association Representatives are pushing to solve by working from the inside out.

On Friday, March 24, several members of USGA attended the 8th Sexual Violence Roundtable event to discuss the idea of climate change at the University and how to allow for students to feel more prepared to handle sexual violence situations.

The open discussion encouraged students to talk about what does and does not work when it comes to sexual violence awareness and education on campus.
“We’re acknowledging that everyone is affected,” said Ashley Dunn, Assistant Director of Student Life Programs and Title IX/VAWA Compliance. While many women feel compelled to speak up, it is up to everyone to raise awareness and create a culture at the University that does not accept sexual violence. “We’re trying to diversify our programming,” Dunn said. The biggest challenge is getting the entire campus and community to speak up, not just a few of the clubs and organizations.

One in five women and one in sixteen men are sexually assaulted in college, according to the Not Alone Campaign (notalone.gov). This is why the University is working to educate students on resources for sexual assault victims and encourage victims to feel supported and find the courage to report.
“When people hear the term sexual violence they assume rape. It’s one of those things– ‘don’t talk about it, it doesn’t happen’,” said Kalee Smith, a graduate student under the direction of Dunn.

Ian Maloney, a member of the USGA Senate said that in smaller settings “It’s not that uncomfortable to talk about,” but it is not discussed on a regular basis because “it’s not at the forefront of your mind.” Maloney says he is interested in the topic and said that the roundtable discussion gave him more exposure to sexual violence.

The next event on campus regarding sexual assault is the kickoff event for the #ItsOnUs National Week of Action. On Thursday, March 30 at 6 p.m. there will be a panel discussion to start off April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month. All members of the community are encouraged to join and to get involved in the prevention of sexual violence.

Another upcoming event is the University Clothesline Project on April 5 at 4 p.m. where students will create t-shirts to show their support for ending sexual, domestic, and dating violence.

The University challenges all students to make a commitment to positively impact the University community and encourages them to participate and raise awareness and prevention of sexual violence on campus. If you have questions or would like to organize an event, please contact Ashley Dunn(adunn@newhaven.edu).

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University & USGA Host Sexual Assault Roundtables