Saint Mary’s students and faculty have been hearing a lot of buzz about sexual assault on college campuses this year, from the required training for all students, being conducted for the first time this fall, to Campus Safety’s adoption of the statewide slogan “If you see something, say something.”
One Saint Mary’s student had the opportunity to educate herself more than most on the issue of sexual assault. On Nov. 14 and 15, sophomore Lupita Gonzalez traveled to St. Louis, Mo. to attend Know Your IX’s Midwest Regional Student Activists Training. Gonzalez was joined by Dean of Students Stefanie Lucas-Waverly, Title IX Coordinator Ann Merchlewitz, and professors Dr. Carolyn Ayers and Dr. Brooke Lenz.
According to Gonzalez, “Know Your IX is a national survivor-run, student-driven organization to end campus sexual violence.” At the training, Gonzalez and the other 40 student participants were educated on Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender in higher education. Participants also learned strategies to improve sexual misconduct policies and provide help to victims. Gonzalez said she was honored to have the opportunity to meet one of the co-founders of Know Your IX, Dana Bolger, and activist Zoe Ridolfi-Starr.
Gonzalez felt she had a duty to the Saint Mary’s community to attend the training. “My friends at Saint Mary’s question the prevalence of sexual assault [at the university],” she explained. “I knew I had to attend the training because I wanted to see what other students are doing and learn new activism skills to bring back to the Saint Mary’s community and help break those rape myths.”
While Gonzalez was the only Saint Mary’s student to attend, she said the entire community can and should take away important lessons from the training. In her words, “College students have a 1 in 5 chance of being sexually assaulted. It’s important for students at Saint Mary’s to recognize that if they are not a sexual assault survivor, there is a likelihood that they are in the presence of someone who is.” Perpetrators know their victims personally more often than not; it is important for all members of the Saint Mary’s community to educate themselves about prevention.
“I highly encourage everyone to not look the other way, join the conversation, and be more aware about what’s happening on our campus,” said Gonzalez.
If someone knows a victim of sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking, contact Dean of Students Stefanie Lucas-Waverly (507-457-1401, email@example.com) or Title IX Coordinator Ann Merchlewitz (507-457-1587, firstname.lastname@example.org). Students are welcome to bring questions to Gonzalez at email@example.com.