Every year, multiple awareness-raising projects take place around the Whitworth campus. Two such programs focus on sexual assault awareness and alcohol awareness. Returning resident assistants hosted these programs during dorm Prime Times Sept. 25 and 27.
Dorms across campus held alcohol awareness seminars Thursday Sept. 27. These provided a space for open student discussion of both concerns and personal experiences. There were many topics of discussion, including both alcohol dependency and the responsible use of alcohol.
Conversation also spanned the legal and social contexts of alcohol. Legislation and law enforcement of alcohol consumption were discussed, as well as different educational styles of teaching alcohol awareness in public secondary schools.
Senior Jordan Scholten, a McMillan RA who helped organize and host this year’s awareness program, said there is a need in the community for events like these.
“I feel that as a society we’re not balanced in the way we deal with alcohol,” Scholten said.
Moderation of alcohol consumption was one of the major points discussed.
Along with facilitating conversation, RAs provided materials such as alcohol awareness pins and pledges with statements such as “I will have a plan” and “I have a choice,” which students were encouraged to sign.
Aside from Prime Time discussions, other forms of passive programming were employed to build awareness around campus. Even those not in attendance of alcohol awareness Prime Times may have spotted the information table set up in the HUB, where the pledges were available and alcohol statistics printed on coffee sleeves.
Sexual assault awareness
Tuesday Sept. 25, Warren and East held similar seminar discussions focused on sexual assault awareness.
Among the topics discussed were issues of power-based personal violence, how to avoid high-risk situations and behavior, and how to reach out to or intervene for someone who may be a victim and the impact of sexual assault on the community.
Whitworth senior Erin Ballo shared her personal experience. Additionally, an anonymous personal account of sexual assault on the Whitworth campus was read aloud and discussed.
Junior Mark Richcreek, a Warren RA, said he thought the stories were effective.
“I think the personal stories brought home the reality. It’s very easy to separate yourself from something difficult, but when it’s someone you know it makes it real,” Richcreek said.
Pam Oswalt, Whitworth counselor and advocate, helped lead the discussion.
“I want to be available to [the students] because the topic is important to our community,” Oswalt said.
She provided informative literature on the issue of sexual assault, as well as where students can go if they need help.
One such resource is Lutheran Community Services, which works with victims of sexual assault, providing support groups and other services. Two representatives of the organization participated in East’s discussion of sexual assault.
Another resource is the Whitworth Health Center, where Oswalt works. She said they have many ways to help sexual assault victims. The health center counselors can provide counseling for students, as well as either academic or housing support. For instance, employees can help make special arrangements for students suffering from post-traumatic stress, or alter their class schedules to help them avoid uncomfortable or unsafe situations. It can also accommodate changes in a student’s living situation if the need arises, or help a student press charges against his or her sexual assault perpetrator. Above all, workers at the health center aim to provide a healthy and supportive environment.
In the past, counselors have done bystander intervention training. In 60 percent of instances of power-based personal violence, there is a witness, Oswalt said. Bystander training helps teach people what they can do to keep violence from happening.
“For those who aren’t victims it’s important to be aware, so there’s no excuse not to take action. [Knowing] for example, what can you do? How can you approach someone?” Richcreek said.
Oswalt discussed the community’s role in the situations involved.
“The reality exists. People are hurt by other people exercising power and control over them. We need to make a stand as a community to believe them, be there for them and to let them know that we have resources,” Oswalt said.
Oswalt said that there are always opportunities for students in crisis to find help on the Whitworth campus.
Katherine Knoll Staff Writer
Contact Katherine Knoll at firstname.lastname@example.org.