SGA organizes forum on sexual assault

Radford University students gathered on campus Oct. 27 to address a serious topic that is affecting college campuses nationwide.

The Student Government Association hosted a forum on sexual assault in the Hurlburt Student Center Auditorium featuring a panel of several university, Radford City and community representatives who carry a broad range of knowledge and resources on the subject matter. The panelists were: Brooke Chang, RU Title IX Coordinator and director of Diversity and Equity; Sgt. Scott Shaffer, Radford University Police Department; Mary Ashlyn Alderman, sexual assault advocate/community educator with the Women's Resource Center; Devin Dausin, assistant director of Student Standards and Conduct; Julie Dill, SAVES coordinator; graduate student Sarah Rash of the SAVES office; and Carla Cross, police detective at the Radford City Police Department.

Facilitated by Dean of Students Irvin Clark, the forum began with a presentation by Rash that explained the bystander effect, a psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. In the case of sexual assault, bystanders may choose not to intervene during a questionable situation because others are not. Rash asked students to "break the cycle" of bystander effect by watching out for peers and taking action if they see something "not right" occurring.

Sgt. Schaeffer updated students on the LiveSafe App, which was introduced to the university this summer. Students can report crimes through the app, ask friends to virtually follow them as they trek across campus or request a safe ride from the RUPD.

Panelists then weighed in on a number of questions, ranging from the confidentiality of victims to what resources are available to them if they are assaulted.

This is the second forum on sexual assault the SGA has conducted in the past year. Next spring, the university will join "Start by Believing," a public awareness campaign designed by End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) to change the way people respond to rape and sexual assault in their communities.

Nov 3, 2015