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Mace & Crown | December 17, 2017

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SGA Hosts Roundtable Discussion on Sexual Violence

By Josh Whitener
News Editor

The Student Government Association hosted an open forum to discuss ideas to spread awareness of sexual violence. On the heels of an on campus incident, SGA and other student organization representatives engaged in two moderated round-table discussions.

The brainstorming session initiated a discussion about what student organizations can do to reach students to convey the seriousness of sexual violence. Comments on the incident that occurred during freshman move-in provoked students to suggest new, alternative ideas to promote awareness.

Both Dr. Ellen Neufeldt, vice president for Student Engagement & Enrollment Services, and Dr. Don Stansberry, dean of students and associate vice president of Student Engagement and Enrollment Services moderated their respective groups.

“One of the things that was so impressive to me was the student leadership in that moment and how we said this is not who we are as a campus,” Neufeldt said.

Several ideas were brought up for discussion. Many of them were suggested events from previous semesters or ongoing efforts such as “First Class,” a program designed to introduce information on sexual assault to incoming students.

“No Zebras, No Excuses”, a theatrical presentation by the acting troupe “No Zebras, No More” presented at ODU last April, was suggested as a returning option.

“I think them coming was awesome and more relatable than just having an administrator or someone just talk about sexual prevention,” Daphne Allen, vice president of Campus Engagement for the Panhellenic Executive Board, said.

John Harrington, president of Tau Kappa Epsilon, discussed the idea of using banners for a positive purpose.

“We could counter that,” Harrington said. “Fight fire with fire and put up our own banner and instead of hate, we put love in it. Not everyone is going to want to go to No Zebras or the Title IX thing. If they’re walking to class, they’re going to see these things.”

Many admitted that they learned about the national “It’s On Us” campaign through Snapchat, which emphasized the importance of social media as a tool for support. The representatives agreed that many students would not go out of their way to attend sexual assault presentations.

Corey Overstreet, engaging issues director for ODU Student Activities Council, contributed to the issue.

“The fact that articles are even coming out saying it’s not a big deal and ‘why is everyone making this a big deal?’ It is a big deal. You’re referencing sexual assault and violence. Yeah, it’s a touchy subject but it’s something that needs to be brought up and talked about,” Overstreet said.

The discussion ended with a serious hypothetical situation. Stansberry posed the question to a predominantly male group.

“As an [assaulted] man what would you do?” Stansberry asked. “Where would they go?”

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college” and “more than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.”

“Probably inside their own heads,” Harrington said.

Some wondered if men knew of a place they could go if they were a victim of sexual violence. Some even wondered if there was anything they would do considering the stigma attached to male victims of sexual assault. The hypothetical question brought baffled silence to the table.

“I wouldn’t say a word,” Harrington said.

If you or someone you know is experiencing relationship violence or sexual abuse, please contact ODU Police Department or ODU’s Women’s Center for help.