Student Led Sexual Assault Panels have the Potential to Impact the College Community.
by Karly Sacco
College students are at a very important time in their lives. They are transitioning into adults and with that comes more responsibility and pressure from the rest of the world – to try to be the best that you can be. Colleges need to create a comfortable environment for their students so they are able to express their minds when need be. With that being said, colleges need to work with students to help run sexual assault panels.
In a perfect world there would be no need for such a thing as a sexual assault panel, but unfortunately none of us live in that utopia so sexual assault panels need to be an important way in spreading awareness. But with the good comes the bad and for some victims, it may discourage them from coming forward. Here are some important points to remember when it comes to student run sexual assault panels:
- It is important for students to have a voice when it comes to sexual assault panels. Student run panels can make a huge difference at college campuses. They can give students that are afraid to speak up a voice and a platform to express them in a comfortable environment.
- School’s need to support these types of panels by having weekly meeting to try to keep up with any issues that occur at their school such as any sexual assault incidents or world-wide topics that should be discussed in a class-room setting.
- Sexual assault panels are important in spreading awareness-
- Victims have a chance to be heard by those who want to listen, but more importantly, those who want to help.
- This is great way for students to spread the message all over their campus so more and more people can get involved with spreading sexual assault prevention awareness.
- Sexual assault panels discourage victims from coming forward-
- A victim may not be ready to share their story and if their school has a sexual assault panel, it may be too overwhelming and they could feel pressure to speak up now that they have the opportunity to.
- Victims may feel judged when speaking to the panel in front of fellow classmates. Many emotions might be at an all-time-high so it is important to be mindful of others in these high-tension situations.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and help spread sexual assault prevention awareness on your campus.
It is important that when discussing matters as serious as issues surrounding campus sexual assault, that not only the students are informed, but the families of the students are well aware of what is being talked about at their child’s school. Let’s take a look at some ways school’s can get the message of sexual assault awareness across to parents.
1-Host Annual Awareness Fundraisers. The sad reality of it is that the chances are you know someone or know of someone who has been impacted by sexual assault. In order to inform parents on the issues as well, an annual fundraiser to help raise awareness including a run, raffles, and other interactive events can help bring out more parents to get involved and get educated on the topic.
2- For Parents Who Live Close- Weekly Board Meetings.
It is important to get parents as educated as possible on this topic. Students should not be alone if something were to happen to them. Create a parent only board that discusses ways to prevent sexual assaults from happening to their children on college campuses. They can even go traveling in their local areas to talk to other parents about how they can be more aware and how to help their children feel comfortable when discussing these certain subjects.
3-Create an open relationship between Parent and Child.
Sometimes, it is up to the parent to let their child know that they will be there for them no matter what. No matter how far away they are. School’s can help inform parents about campus sexual assaults. But it is up to the parent if they want to choose to listen to the information being presented to them. If the child creates an open relationship with their parent and lets them into their school life, then it will be easier for the school to keep the parent updated if anything happens to their student.
These are just a few ideas of how college campuses can keep parents updated on sexual assault prevention.
We live in an individualistic society. People go about their days and sometimes don’t even care to ask the person walking next to them on the street how they are doing or if they need help with carrying their bags. So, it is no surprise that most people have become custom to keeping things to themselves.
It is hard enough for people that have not suffered a traumatizing experience to open up to one another, but let us take a moment to think about how terrifying it would be for those who are survivors of a sexual assaults to speak up about their daily struggles.
One of the main reasons as to why we are so scared to open up about things that have happened in our past, is that we know that the world we live in can be extremely judgmental at times. We are not sure how people will react to some things that have happened to us if we shared them with others that do not understand the subject matter.
In order to make it a little easier for survivors to share their stories, we need to make places such as work and school a safe and positive environment so they can feel comfortable talking about their past.
Education is key. If someone is willing to listen to a survivors story, they have to at least know general information about sexual abuse and the affect it can have on the victim. How a person that has gone through a sexual abuse may feel, and what topics to bring up during a discussion and maybe some things that might be too personal for a group discussion. Once the environment is aware of the statistics and general information, then survivors can express themselves as they wish.
If we all just take a little more time to be less selfish and more selfless, I believe that we can become more trusting in opening up. That is the first step when it comes to survivors coming forward to schools and feeling safe when doing so.