Rio Grande – Students at the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College are working to empower students to make changes happen across college campuses. Rio was one of the higher education institutions invited to the first Changing Campus Culture Summit.
Over 300 college students and Title IX coordinators throughout Ohio attended the summit titled, “Generation IX: Our Time. Our Power. Our Voices,” to promote the prevention, awareness and victim’s advocacy of sexual assaults on college campuses. Interim Dean of Students Dena Warren said the event was an important step in creating a new campus climate that makes students feel safe and supported against sexual assault.
“It was a very impressive turnout. The event worked to promote the importance of campaigning on campuses and increasing awareness of how to prevent sexual assault and also supporting victims of sexual assault,” Warren said. “The keynote speaker had been a victim of sexual assault while attending college in the state. Hearing her telling her story helped create an awareness among the students that victims need to know they are supported.”
The Ohio Department of Higher Education and Chancellor John Carey created the summit to encourage and empower students to make a difference to help end sexual assault on college campuses across Ohio. Warren said she hopes the students will continue to spread the message and bring this awareness to their classmates.
“Campaigning on campus can be something as simple as being willing to stand up and tell someone when a joke is inappropriate or advocating to stop an incident before it happens. The idea is to create a new climate on campuses where students are not afraid to speak out against sexual harassment, violence or assault. We want them to be empowered to say, ‘This needs to stop,’” Warren said. “I think this summit helped our students really become aware of what they can do here on campus to make a difference, should the need arise.”
Rio has been working to promote awareness and prevention of sexual assault through the It’s On Us Campaign, which works to create supportive environments for victims and spread the message that sexual assault is unacceptable.
“Another major component of making a difference is being able to handle the aftermath if a sexual assault were to occur. This needs to be a campus wide effort from administration to the students sharing support for the victim,” Warren said. “Here at Rio, we have taken part in the It’s On Us campaign to help create awareness, but one campaign will never be enough. This is something we need to continually work at new ways to keep this message going. We have asked the students to think of ways to lead a new awareness campaign.”
Warren said the statistics for sexual assaults often go underreported and it is important to help victims feel secure in speaking out.
“The statistics show one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted in post-education. On top of this, a lot of cases go underreported because people don’t know who to go to or who will believe their stories,” Warren said. “We can bring these down by making students aware of where to go if something were to happen and by showing that we as a university will stand by victims of sexual assault. Most campuses provide students with someone to go to if they have been sexually assaulted, harassed or stalked. Awareness is the key to bringing down these numbers on campuses across Ohio and across the country.”
For more about preventing and reporting sexual assault, contact Deputy Title IX Coordinator Dena Warren 740-245-7396 and firstname.lastname@example.org or Title IX Coordinator Chris Nourse at 740-245-7228 and email@example.com. For more information on Title IX policies, resources and regulations, visit http://www.rio.edu/titleix/index.cfm.